Electronic Crime

All Customs administrations are under increasing pressure to keep abreast of change: to clear goods and people more effectively and efficiently while protecting society from the threats posed by illicit trade. To effectively manage this dual responsibility, Customs is also becoming increasingly reliant on complex, ubiquitous, high-speed networked computing systems. Unfortunately, these technological innovations are also being exploited by criminals who are taking advantage of the convenience and anonymity that modern technologies offer in order to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.

Cybercrime is now one of the fastest growing areas of crime. It has been defined as a crime committed by means of electronic storage devices, computer systems and networks. Customs administrations should be well equipped to deal with complicated offences committed in cyberspace, which pose great challenges particularly in terms of their identification and disruption.

In acknowledgement of this, the 3rd Cybercrime Working Group (in 2000) recommended the formation of a specialised expert group to examine a wide range of electronic crime concerns. The Electronic Crime Expert Group (ECEG) was then founded in 2001 and endorsed by the WCO Council in 2002.

The ECEG provides a resource of specialists available to the WCO, which focuses on diverse facets of electronic crime and provides strategic and practical advice to support Customs administrations. This network of specialists meets once per year and develops guidance materials on technological advancements which are relevant to modern Customs administrations and their operational activities. They cover a broad range of issues from computer forensics, preconditions for setting up a cybercrime unit, to recommended software analysis and data mining products.

More detail on the functions of the ECEG is contained in the Terms of Reference established for this Expert Group.