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Electronic Crime

All Customs administrations are under increasing pressure to keep abreast of the latest developments in order to clear goods and people more effectively and efficiently while protecting society from the threats posed by illicit trade. To fulfil this dual responsibility, Customs is also becoming increasingly reliant on complex, commonplace and 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 criminality. It has been defined as a crime committed by means of electronic storage devices, computer systems and networks. Customs administrations need to be properly equipped to deal with sophisticated offences committed in cyberspace and which pose many challenges, particularly in terms of identifying and thwarting them.

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

The ECEG makes specialists available to the WCO who focus on diverse facets of electronic crime and provide strategic and practical advice to support Customs administrations. This network of specialists meets once a year and develops guidance materials on technological advancements of relevance to modern Customs administrations and their operational activities. The specialists cover a broad range of issues from computer forensics and preconditions for setting up a cybercrime unit to recommended software analysis and data mining tools. The WCO and the ECEG are also active in helping Members organize workshops on cybercrime investigations and digital forensics.

More detail on the functions of the ECEG can be found in the Terms of Reference (members only) established for this Expert Group.