T.D.’s ill-conceived calls to suppress access to legitimate services will not stop cybercrime

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ISPAI is rather dismayed and somewhat confused by the recent press release issued by Deputy Patrick O’Donovan (FG). He appears to be asking the Oireachtas Communications Committee (of which he is a member) to investigate: “the matter of tougher controls on the use of open source internet browsers and payment systems”  which he claims “allow users to remain anonymous for illegal trade of drugs weapons and pornography.”[1]

Deputy O’Donovan would do well to ask the advice of industry experts on these matters given that legislating to curtail the use of such legitimate software or services, which may be misused by some, is neither practical nor logical. Whether or not a browser is open source bears no relevance to its ability to be the subject of anonymous use. Indeed, Deputy O’Donovan must surely be confusing and conflating different technical concepts? In tracing illegal activities, Law Enforcement Agencies and co-operating parties will use IP addresses – users’ choice of browser has little relevance to an investigation of criminal activity.

Equally, it may be that the Deputy is uncomfortable with the concept of electronic payment systems but these underpin the digital economy which is bringing enormous benefit to Ireland. Yes, these may be misused by criminals but so are cash and traditional banking services. Restricting the growth of innovative financial services is not the solution to tackling cyber criminals who might be operating what he describes as “online supermarkets for illegal goods.”

Tackling international cybercrime requires more specialist Law Enforcement resources at national level and improved international police cooperation supported by revision of EU legislation relating to obtaining server log evidence existing in other jurisdictions.



[1] Read full Press Release at: http://www.finegael.ie/latest-news/2014/odonovan-calls-for-crackd/index.xml?cookie_decision=true