Piracy and falsifications: a very lucrative business

EUIPO_LOGO_ENThe European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and Europol have presented a report which aims to update professionals, companies and the general public about the current state of the world of falsification and piracy in the European Union.

The document, presented at the end of June 2017, explores intellectual property rights and their value, the key sectors which produce falsifications and the main routes and countries which supply counterfeit products. It also describes and examines the threat of piracy and other online infractions, and shows how intellectual property rights and their protection are the cornerstones of the European Union economy and society.

The report analyses the way in which organised criminal groups (OCG) participate in intellectual property crimes and uses the study of a specific number of cases to emphasise the dangers involved in this activity. Similarly, some of the challenges faced by the fight against falsification and piracy are examined, and initiatives to combat this type of crime are included.

As far as the range of counterfeit products retrieved in the European Union is concerned, it is very wide and includes all kinds of products, and also, more and more frequently, everyday products, like cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, toys, medication, food and beverages and household products.

Counterfeit products sold in the European Union tend to be of lesser value and, more and more often, include spare parts or other elements used in combination with genuine products. This evolution is reflected in the growing number of interceptions of lesser value products like, for example, spare parts for mobile telephones, spare screens or batteries.

Smaller items are usually falsified and sent, and then put together in the destination country.

Regarding the main typologies of products intercepted on the borders in 2015, cigarettes represent 27% of the total number of articles confiscated. Afterwards, there is a category involving other goods, with 10%; toys, 9%; labels and adhesives, with 8%, and food, 7%. These percentages refer to per unit volume. As far as the number of cases is concerned, the results are: footwear, with 17% of the total; bags and watches, with 15%, and clothes, 14%.

The so-called crimes against intellectual property, which is estimated to be worth around 461 thousand million American dollars worldwide annually, provide almost all types of products to all kinds of geographic areas.

China continues to be main country producing counterfeit products and Hong Kong is the main transit point of goods previously manufactured in China.

Terrorism, cybercrime, immigrant trafficking, drug trafficking and other areas of criminal activity have become predominant in the context of combating all kinds of crime. As can be seen in the report of the 2017 situation regarding falsification and piracy in the European Union, it is a minor crime priority. Nevertheless, crime against intellectual property continues to be one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises and is very much linked to other criminal activities.

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The number of terrorist attacks falls, the threat remains

In 2016, Europol recorded 142 terrorist attacks –including those which failed, those which were thwarted and those which were carried out −, which caused 142 deaths. Terrorist activity in the European Union is concentrated in eight countries: Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The fight against terrorism, however, also affects countries which have not suffered attacks, and the 1,002 terrorist-related detentions, apart from the eight countries already mentioned, have also been carried out in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Slovenia, Ireland, Poland, The Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden.

Hommage_à_Ahmed_MerabetThese figures are slightly lower than those recorded during 2015  : 221 terrorist attacks, 151 deaths and 1,077 people arrested.

Europol differentiates between terrorist affiliations: jihadists, extreme left wing and anarchists, extreme right, separatists, with a particular objective and those which do not specify what group they belong to. Jihadist terrorist attacks amount to 13 of the 142 recorded; however, they have caused 135 of the 142 deaths and 374 of the 379 casualties.[1] Most of the 1,002 detentions are also mainly focused on terrorists with a jihadist ideology (718, 429 correspond to France and 69 to Spain). Of all detentions, the UK stands out due to the non-specified affiliation of the 149 people detained in this country.

Separatist terrorism is the one which, in terms of quantity, generates a higher number of incidents, with 99 attacks recorded in 2016. Of these, 76 were in the UK, all connected to Northern Irish terrorism. Five of these attacks took place in Spain and correspond to acts of sabotage attributed to Ernai (the youth movements of the Abertzale left-wing separatist group) and to this group’s dissident movements.

The other affiliation which generates most attacks is the extreme left and anarchists, with 16 attacks in Italy, 6 in Greece and 5 in Spain, regarding which it must be stressed that there is no great operational planning nor the use of improvised explosive devices (which are not considered to be commercial or military explosives) nor firearms.

This is some of the information published in the annual report on the situation and trends connected to terrorism in the European Union in 2016 which Europol has published in June 2017.

[1] The tally of those injured is confusing, as the core of the document, when the attacks in Nice, Berlin and Brussels are explained, respectively records 201, 56 and 340 casualties, a figure which, without including those injured in less serious attacks, is already in excess of the 374 highlighted.

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What are the main threats and trends on internet?

At the beginning of June the Spanish National Cryptologic Centre (CCN) published, via the CCN-CERT, the 2017 edition of its Report on cyber threats and trends. This organism is part of the National Intelligence Centre and is responsible for handling cyber incidents which affect public sector systems, companies and organisation of strategic interest and any classified system.

The report highlights the complexity of internet crime: the authors have a range of profiles and sources of motivation, and in accordance with these they attack the public sector, private and civil organisations, with differing techniques and objectives in each case. For example, criminal organisations looking to make economic gains attack to steel, publish or sell information, manipulate information, interrupt systems or take control of them. Cyber vandals or script kiddies[1], meanwhile, not only aim to uncover vulnerabilities, enjoy themselves or regard the attacks as a challenge, as their actions also aim to steel information or interrupt systems. Other authors identified are states, private organisations, cyberterrorists, cyber jihadists, cyber activists, internal actors or cyber investigators.

Many of these attacks are focused on software or programmes, but those users who feel vulnerable also stress the use of mobile devises and social engineering (which was dealt with in a  previous entry). The emergence of internet of things is also worthy of special attention (IoT), as many of the manufacturers of these connected devices do not implement security measures and important deficiencies are detected which makes them more vulnerable to attacks which may lead to them being remote controlled by non-authorised third parties.

For 2017, more sophisticated threats aimed at specific objectives are expected (rather than indiscriminate attacks). Apart from this prediction, about twenty trends are mentioned, involving both threats and the responses to such threats, of which the following are highlighted:

  • New types of complex attacks
  • Short-lived infections, with no wish to persist, but which cause a lot of damage while they are active
  • Mobile devices as an objective for cyber espionage
  • Attacks on industrial control systems, focused on critical infrastructures
  • Weak security of internet of things
  • Automatic learning as a catalyst for social engineering attacks
  • Attacks on privacy as a tool of cyber activism

An executive review of the report can be consulted on the CCN web page.

[1] Defined as “those who, with limited knowledge and using tools made by third parties, carry out actions for a challenge, without being, on many occasions, fully aware of the consequences”.

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Violent crime is on the rise in Austria

The report published by the federal Austrian ministry of the interior shows that in 2016 there was a rise of 3.84% in the total number of crimes in comparison with the previous year. Specifically, 537,792 penal infractions were recorded, a figure which means an increase of 19,923 crimes overall.

Sicherheit 2016 in ÖsterreichAn aspect of this figure which is not to be overlooked is that concerning violent crime, which last year involved an imperceptible 0.4%, but this year has risen from 40,333 to 43,098, figures which reflect a rise of 6.9%. An interesting fact is that only 36.7% of the victims of these crimes did not know their aggressors.

The other area which is mainly responsible for this changing trend is cybercrime, which has increased by 30% compared with the previous year, from 10,010 to 13,103 cases. Furthermore, this increase has meant a drop in the rate at which these cases are solved, which is 18%.

Finally, the other area which has recorded a noteworthy rise in crime is economic crime, which has seen a rise of 10.9% in comparison with the previous year (from 48,601 to 53,905). In the field of fraud and scams, internet has increasingly become a venue for crime, as 2,199 more were recorded by using this method than the previous year (a rise of 29.42%).

The two areas which show a positive trend, unlike the general one, are burglaries and vehicle theft. In the first case, this consolidates a downward trend which began the year before (9.4% less than in 2014) and is now as high as 16.4%: 12,975 burglaries, 40% of which were attempted and 60% were carried out. These are the lowest figures in ten years. As far as the theft of vehicles is concerned, the downward trend dates back to the start of the decade and now involves 2,994 cases, with a 10% reduction in comparison with the previous year. Of these thefts, 1,511 mopeds were stolen, 197 involved trucks and 1,376 cars.

Most of the people detained in relation with these crimes were Austrian (60.9%), while the other most frequently detained nationalities were Romanian (11.021), German (9.724) and Serbian (9.557). Regarding people who are seeking asylum, the number of people detained has also increased by 54%.

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Drugs in Europe 2017: trends and new developments

The report on the situation of drugs in Europe 2017 estimated the economic volume of the retail market of all illegal drugs in the European Union at 24,000 million euros in 2013. Over recent years the online market has developed thanks to the arrival of new internet technology, which coexists with the physical drug market.

The main illegal stimulant drugs available in Europe at the moment are cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and MDMA. The value of the retail market of stimulants in the EU is estimated to be between 6,300 and 10,200 million euros. There are notable differences between regions regarding the most intercepted drug, because of the existence of ports of entry and traffic routes, the main centres of production and large consumer markets.

Cocaine is the stimulant which is most intercepted in many countries in the west and south, which clearly reflects where the drug enters Europe. In total, in 2015 the EU was notified of almost 87,000 interceptions of cocaine. Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal were the focus of 78% of the 69.4 tonnes intercepted. Spain is where more cocaine is intercepted, with 22 tonnes in 2015.

Parenteral consumption has gone down, but it continues to be a challenge for public healthcare policies.

The herb cannabis –marihuana– and cannabis resin –hashish– are the two main cannabis products  sold on the European drug market. Cannabis products represent the biggest percentage –38%– of the illegal drug retail market in Europe, with an estimated value of 9,300 million euros.

The marihuana which is found in Europe is cultivated both internally and in other countries. Marihuana is largely imported from Morocco. According to estimates, the retail market of these drugs in the European Union was valued at 24,000 million euros in 2013.

Annually, in the European Union there are over a million interceptions of illegal drugs. Numerically, most correspond to small quantities confiscated from consumers, although interceptions of several kilos from traffickers and producers represent most of the total.

Cannabis is the most intercepted drug, as it involves 70% of interventions in Europe. Cocaine is in second place, with 9%; amphetamines 5%, like heroine, and finally MDMA with 2%.

In 2015, over 60% of drug interceptions carried out in the European Union were focused on three countries: Spain, France and the United Kingdom. Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy and Sweden also recorded some noteworthy figures.

Links:

EMCDDA report 2016 on perspectives in the field of drugs: http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/topics/pods/waste-water-analysis

Document EMCDDA http://emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/4541/TDAT17001ESN.pdf

Document EMCDDA on recent changes in the European market of ecstasy and MDMA http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/rapid-communications/2016/mdma

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The fight against inciting hatred on line speeds up

Fighting illegal online hate speech – First results of the new code of conduct
© EU, 2016

According to an assessment carried out by an NGO and public organisms from 24 member states of the European Union, important progress has been made in complying with the code of conduct related to the illegal incitement of hatred on line. This code includes a series of commitments made by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to combat the dissemination of this type of content in Europe.

On signing this agreement, technology-based companies committed themselves to examine most valid notifications of illegal incitement of hatred within 24 hours and to eliminate such content or deactivate access to it, if need be, in line with national legislation to apply European law. The code also stresses the need to continue debating the way to foment transparency, the alternative narrative and counter narrative.

One year after the adoption of the code of conduct, some important progress has been made, although certain difficulties are still present:

  • In an average of 59% of cases, technology-based companies have responded to notifications related to illegal incitement of hatred by eliminating the content, which involves more than double the average of 28% recorded six months earlier.
  • The amount of notifications reported over a 24 hour-period has gone from 40% to 51% over the last six months. Nevertheless, Facebook is the only company which examines most notifications the same day.
  • Over the last six months, technology-based companies have improved when dealing with notifications made by members of the public compared with those made by organisations. However, there are still some differences.
  • It is necessary to continue improving in the area of the quality of the information concerning the motivation behind a decision.

Technology-based companies have reinforced their notification system, simplifying the one involving incitement to hate in particular. They have trained their personnel and have intensified their participation in civil society. The application of the code of conduct has consolidated and extended the networks of trustworthy people in these companies prepared to sound the alarms all over Europe.

More intense cooperation with civil society organisations has led to an increase in the quality of the notifications, more efficient treatment deadlines and better results from the point of view of the reaction to notifications.

Links:

Questions and answers

Information file about the second assessment

Code of conduct

Fight against incitement of hatred on line: first assessment of the code of conduct

Information file – First evaluation of the code of conduct

Intermediate review of the Sole Digital Market (Spanish)

Information file about the intermediate review of the Sole Digital Review strategy

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The legitimacy of the police: a key question?

Sebastian Roché is director of research at the CNRS (Political Science, University of Grenoble). He is a teacher of the Higher National Police School, and of the universities of Grenoble and of Bahcesehir, in Istanbul. His work is focused on surveying crime, analysing public security policies and the compared governance of the police. He is also an adviser to the United Nations. One of his publications is: De la police en démocratie [“Police in democracy”] (Grasset, 2016).

Doctor Roché, you have published a very interesting book, De la police en démocratie [“Police in democracy”], where you talk about legitimacy. What are we referring to, when we talk about the legitimacy of the police?

The legitimacy of the police is the moral right that it has which means that it will be obeyed. It involves two aspects. In the first place, by recognising the police’s moral right, the citizen feels obliged to obey him / her, or does so voluntarily, so to speak, without having to promise anything in return (for example, more security) or with no need to threaten(for example, with sanctions). This first aspect is the one which is normally studied. Then, we find that this moral right bestowed upon the police to be obeyed turns into an agreement with the use of means which are sometimes illegal or violent. This second aspect, which we could call “the hidden face of legitimacy”, is studied less, but is no less real: it is, for example, the one which means that American whites support the police when they kill a black man.

Do you think that legitimacy has practical consequences on the daily work of the police? Isn´t this a rhetorical question which is only of interest to intellectuals?

The legitimacy of the police probably has practical effects, but it is necessary to recognise that these are well demonstrated. The main idea is that trust encourages the idea of recognising the legitimacy of the police, and that, this also encourages the public’s voluntary obedience, an adherence to the demands of officers, even when it isn’t to the citizen’s liking, and ways of cooperation, especially with the reporting of incidents when we are victims, informing of problems, participating in local associations; to sum up, a commitment to collaborate with police officers. The most noteworthy benefit would be a reduction in everyday tension and security for officers.

What can public authorities do to improve the legitimacy of the police? Do you mean to say that this is not a historical and cultural issue which is impossible to change?

The quest for legitimacy involves a quest for satisfaction regarding the service provided and equalitarian treatment. These are the attitudes which encourage trust. It is also about a professional culture, which may evolve, and it has to evolve, in accordance with the society it is part of. A ministry of the interior can establish its own quality control, decide on its own training mechanisms and then what tools to use to control it, and use them to classify officers. Therefore, practices will evolve.

What would a French police officer think when he or she read your book? Do you think they would feel happy about the way you portray them? Would you think differently if you were a police officer?

I think that police officers don’t read much sociology. I can understand them. If they did, they would be surprised at the importance I give to trust and legitimacy. Indeed, their professional culture is, above all, based on the law, and on practical learning of how to impose their vision of things on people, rather than the art of open discussion. This is what their experienced workmates value when they do their initial practical training. But I think that there are officers who have understood the importance of the relationship between the police and the public, and the need for it to advance.

Do you think that police data (crime statistics, connected to a lack of civil behaviour and incidents the police must respond to, the number of officers, etc.) should be public, available on line? Is it a democratic condition/requirement?

Yes, it would be convenient for the databases to be accessible. This would enable us to help analysis to evolve based on objective data. It would be the most normal thing, as it is the public which pays for them.

Do you think the current trend of fining more and limiting citizens’ rights puts the legitimacy of the police at risk? Do you think it’s efficient?

Faced with the terrorist threat, governments feel obliged to give the police more power. The main reason is political: it is all a strategy to avoid criticism from the opposition. We don’t have any evidence of the efficiency of a stricter legislation concerning petty or medium-level crimes, although the police are very often in favour of this type of approach. As far as young people are concerned, we know that penal severity actually even leads to more re-offending. Practical effectiveness and political effectiveness are quite different things.

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The European order of investigation is put into practice

On 22 May 2017 the European order of investigation came into effect, which simplifies and sharpens up cross border penal investigations with the ability to ask for evidence. This facilitates work between different judicial authorities when evidence is required in another European Union country.

The  European order of investigation is based on mutual recognition, which means that European Union countries are obliged to recognise and execute the request of another country, just as they would with a decision coming from their own authorities.

Among the advantages which may be shared with the European order of investigation are the following:

  • Create a sole wide-ranging instrument. The European order of investigation will substitute the current fragmented judicial framework for the acquisition of evidence. It covers the entire process of obtaining evidence, from verifying the evidence to the transfer of existing elements of proof, for the participating member states.
  • Establish strict deadlines to obtain the required evidence. The member states have up to 30 days to decide if they accept a request. If accepted, the deadline for carrying out the investigation process required is 90 days.
  • Restrict reasons for refusing a request. The authority receiving the request can only refuse to implement an order in specific circumstances, like, for example, if it is detrimental to national security or if it is contrary to the fundamental principles of the law of the country in question.
  • Reduce administrative processes thanks to the introduction of one sole normalised questionnaire, in the official language of the country receiving the request.
  • Protect the fundamental rights of the defence. The requesting authorities must assess the need and proportionality of the investigation process required. European investigation orders must be issued or ratified by a judicial authority.

The European order of investigation will allow for:

  • The temporary transfer of those detained in order to gather evidence.
  • The examination of bank accounts and financial operations of suspects and accused.
  • Undercover investigations and the interception of telecommunications.
  • Evidence protection measures.

At the same time, the European Commission is working to create solutions which provide judicial authorities with modern investigation tools to facilitate access to electronic tests.

Once the European order of investigation has been added to respective national legislations, the European Commission will analyse the state of this incorporation and will contact those member states which have yet to take the relevant measures.

Records

The guideline is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions regarding the gathering of evidence to be used in penal proceedings.

This guideline initially applies to all the countries of the EU except Denmark and Ireland, which are not participants. This involves an instrument which substitutes existing mutual judicial assistance in the EU to obtain evidence, in particular, the judicial assistance agreement of the EU 2000 and the Decision framework 2003/577/JHA regarding the verification of evidence.

 

Webpages of interest

Penal justice: recognition of evidence

The Security Union: two years later

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Europol asks the public for help

The identification and rescue of victims within the framework of the fight against the online exploitation of minors is one of the operational priorities of Europol. To meet this objective, Europol has started up an initiative which asks the general public to help to identify victims of child pornography. This logically involves minor details rather than a direct approach. With the slogan “Stop child abuse, trace an object”, a webpage has been published which shows objects which appear in photographs obtained from sex crimes suffered by minors. The intention is for those members of the public who see these objects to be able to identify them and, with the information gathered, Europol will be able to identify their origin.

Stop Child Abuse. Trace and Object

The driving force is that in two previous investigations two victims were successfully identified thanks to food wrappings and rubbish containers, which appeared due to these images and their sexual content.

On 1 June 2017 the first collection of twenty objects was published, which involve fragments of photographs in which bags, shoes, landscapes, bottles and other elements can be seen. For each object, some information is associated, with some indication about the type of object and more specific or more generic questions about the identification that may be made, about the locality and where certain products can be bought and sold. Such images can also be shared on social networks.

The information given by the members of the public can be anonymous, and whenever Europol confirms that the object has been identified or located in a particular place, the information will be passed on to the relevant police authorities in the country in question.

The quality of the images varies greatly and, in some cases, objects may turn out to be easier to identify than in others. The collection of images published will vary periodically.

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