Yvette Cooper has announced plans to crackdown on cybercrime during the last day of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
In a 2011 Cabinet Office Report it was estimated that cybercrime costs Britain somewhere in the region of £27 billion per year with the government bearing £2 billion of that total and individuals losing to the tuner of £3 billion per annum.
Cooper claimed that fraud is up by 30%, adding that, “we know that’s [only] the tip of the iceberg because most online crime like credit card and identity fraud goes unreported.”
The shadow Home Secretary said that if the Labour Party forms the next UK government after the next general election then it will launch a targeted response to digital crimes such as internet shopping fraud. She also committed a future Labour government to creating new legislation which would make identity theft a specific criminal offence that would be far easier to prosecute.
A report in July from the all-party home affairs select committee discovered that hackers who stole money online were receiving far shorter sentences than if they had physically robbed a bank.
“We need changes in the law to make it easier to prosecute identity theft,” said Cooper, “When the credit card companies and banks write off so much fraud we all lose out from higher charges,” adding that, “The police don’t have the skills, the equipment or the structures to cope. Families are already facing pressure and they will have to pay an ever higher price.”
Cooper also committed her party to two major new initiatives which would help in the battle against online crime.
The first would be a new organisation charged with challenging online fraud. The industry-backed body – known as FraudWatch – would be modelled on the Internet Watch Foundation which already tackles some forms of online crime, especially with regard to children.
The second program, known as “Police First” would be based on Teach First and will look to recruit the best tech graduates into the police force in order to improve their ability to police cybercrime. Personally I wonder if this will work as I suspect police salaries may be too low to attract the best candidates?
Ms Cooper said, “We live our lives online now, but criminals know that too. It’s a big risk for business – online trade should be a big area for economic growth – and it’s a big cost for all of us. When the credit card companies and banks write off so much fraud we all lose out from higher charges.”
Cooper criticised the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, whom she accused of blocking the internet from being mentioned as part of school sex education lessons. She said the secretary, and the coalition government as a whole, had not, “faced up to the 21st century pressures on our children.”
She instead claimed that a Labour government would update the curriculum to include the web and said such lessons would be compulsory – “We need a Labour government to make sure there is updated sex and relationship education for boys and girls – zero tolerance of violence.”