Taiwan Struggles To Combat Attacks From China

Cyber crime, online fraud and copyright infringement are growing rapidly in Taiwan as law enforcement officials, law makers and the courts struggle to stay abreast of the problem, according to a local prosecutor says.

Berkman TaiwanCyber crime, online fraud and copyright infringement are growing rapidly in Taiwan as law enforcement officials, law makers and the courts struggle to stay abreast of the problem, according to a local prosecutor says.

In a Webcast presented to students and faculty at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Doreen Tu, a prosecutor in the Taipei District Court Prosecutors’ Office, said that the small country off the coast of China faces a wide range of challenges in fighting a wave of cyber crime, including jurisdictional difficulties, data retention issues, and a lack of knowledge about cyber crime tactics by victims, prosecutors, and judges.

Jurisdictional challenges are the most pressing issue Taiwan faces in prosecuting  cyber crime, Tu said – echoing law enforcement officials in other regions.

In the case of Taiwan, however, the problem is acute. Tu claims that cross-border crime is rampant, especially from neighboring nation China. Without the cooperation of Chinese authorities, cyber crime investigations that lead back to IP addresses on the mainland hit an impasse.

Tu said that things are changing, albeit slowly. In 2009, the two nations reached an unprecedented mutual assistance agreement to combat cross-border fraud with increased cooperation including information sharing and handing over of criminals among other things.

This increased collaboration has resulted in a number of successful cross-border prosecutions. Specifically, Tu describes the shut-down of a large cross-border criminal organization that took place last August, wherein 450 individuals, including 121 Taiwanese citizens were arrested.

Another problem Tu points out is data-retention. Many victims of online fraud don’t immediately realize they have been victimized, so there have been cases where Taiwanese law enforcement officials reach out to Internet service providers seeking data related to cyber crimes that are under investigation, only to find that the providers no longer have saved in their logs.

While the problems Tu addresses take place in Taiwan, the problem is global in nature, so her discussion is universally applicable. For a more in-depth analysis, you can find Tu’s talk in its entirety at the Berkman Center’s website.

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