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Conmen on the internet – ‘Bloodless Crime’

8 October 2017

Conmen on the internet – ‘Bloodless Crime’

We don’t think about it enough, but when we go online with our mobile or our PC, any one of us could be the victim of conmen on the Internet, of cyber-crime. This applies to private individuals, state bodies and companies. Tomorrow I’m taking part in a conference of the Foundation to Tackle Financial-Economic Crime in the Netherlands (known by its Dutch acronym, Safecin). The conference title is ‘Bloodless Crime’, and its purpose is to discuss the national and EU measures needed to protect Internet users, including in particular small businesses. While the Netherlands is starting to wake up to the issue, the European Parliament, unfortunately, is still half-asleep. Time to change that.

I’ve seen with my own eyes business people who were shaken and distressed because they had paid out a sum of money against a fraudulent invoice that they had received via email, or who had been hacked after visiting an unsafe site. Conmen on the Internet are growing more and more dangerous. If in the past you only got emails that were so badly written that you knew that they were fishy, now you see much more convincing messages. And if you’re hacked, your identity is stolen or you’ve paid a fraudulent bill, it will cost you an incredible amount of time and trouble to get redress.

In the Netherlands there’s now a ‘Digital Trust Center’ where firms can get up-to-the-minute information on cyber-threats. Earlier in the year I proposed that something comparable should be established at the European level. After all, cyber-crime knows no frontiers. Yet a majority of my fellow MEPs didn’t see this as necessary. Pity, but of course I won’t be giving this up. The European Commission concerns itself principally with the security of state services, but small businesses too have a right to protection. That’s why what I hope for tomorrow at the conference in Utrecht is to find sufficient allies to bring about a change together. It’s precisely small businesses which must be able to get hold of accessible information on cyber-threats inside or from all of the European Union’s member countries. One way or another we’ll make a fist of it.

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