U.S. and India Team Up to Tackle Cybercrime

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Dec. 24 – Despite a recent diplomatic spat between the two countries, India and the United States will soon increase joint efforts to check cybercrime via a new cooperation portal.

During a two-day bilateral conference between top American and Indian police chiefs in New Delhi, India proposed the creation of a joint portal called the “Indo-American Alert, Watch and Warn Network” that will help streamline law enforcement information requests – especially those from U.S.-based companies.

“We have suggested the setting up of [a] cooperation portal on cybercrime where requests can be logged and tracked,” one of the Indian police chiefs taking part in the conference said.

In recent years, Indian law enforcement officials have struggled to keep pace with increasingly complex cybercrime investigations. One of the main issues faced by Indian officials involves acquiring critical information related to cybercrimes from U.S.-based servers.

A request for information from one of the most commonly-used service providers including Google, Hotmail, Facebook or Twitter can take anywhere between 15 and 80 days to process. Even with a request from the Indian authorities, however, there is no guarantee the required information will be provided at all.

“In addition to internet logs, in many cases profile and email contents are also required for investigations. However, despite urgent requests, [they] have never been provided by any of the service providers even in [a] single case,” a document from the conference stated.

Indian authorities have also faced difficulties asking service providers to remove illegal hate speeches on their platforms, capable of stoking ethnic violence and social unrest. In several recent incidents, hate speeches posted on social media sites have catalyzed deadly communal violence in India.

In 2012, Facebook and Google were forced by Indian courts to remove offensive, potentially dangerous content from their Indian sites under threat of being blocked by the government.

The conference, the India-U.S. Homeland Security Dialogue, was inaugurated by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, and attended by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Policy David Heyman and U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell, among others.

India, which ranks fifth in the world in incidences of cybercrime, has seen more than 9,000 critical governmental and private sector websites hacked in last three years.

With cybercrime against businesses in both countries on the rise, creating a portal for rapidly disseminating cybercrime information and managing joint responses to crises, incidents and threats should come as a welcome sign for companies that both nations are seeking to harden their stance against cyber-criminals.

An agenda paper from the conference also proposed the creation of bilateral expert groups able to promote legal mechanisms that further encourage cooperation in cybercrime matters, and facilitate the dissemination of training materials and strategy.

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