The world today is more and more digitalized. People use digital data in their daily life, which opens new opportunities, but at the same time creates vulnerabilities.
The subject of digitalization has been extensively addressed at EU level, mostly on how to be better equipped in the face of continuously evolving cyber threats.
A lot has been done at EU level, from the publication EU Cybersecurity Strategy 2013, the creation of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), as a centre of expertise for cyber security in Europe, in 2014, the Action plan for the reform of EU cyber security, in 2017, to the Cyber security act in 2018. It’s also important to mention the European Cybercrime Centre in Europol which supports cybercrime investigations.
Also there are some networks which have their main topic related to IT sector. One that can be mentioned is ENLETS. It has been in place since 2008 and has provided law enforcement partners across Europe with a platform to explore how technology is applied to operational policing and sharing of good working practices in its use.
The general approach is to identify a challenging area of work, form a small working group from member states, and meet over a fixed period of time to develop the current situation across partners and seek potential solutions in use across the law enforcement community. The methodology has been successful in examining and disseminating useful information to the community and assisted in levelling out the capability gaps across member states relating to here and now issues.
Addressing challenges in cyberspace is a multidisciplinary issue, therefore cooperation between all formats within the Council takes place (Working Group on Cybersecurity, FoP on hybrid threats, Home Affairs working parties).
The Romanian Presidency intends to address the issue of digital data from the perspective of the advantages it can bring, linked to the concept of intelligence-led policing, as a comprehensive and coordinated way to the challenges posed to the internal security of the EU.
NB: Intelligence-led policing, as an alternative to the traditional, reactive model of public policing, can be traced up to the early 1990s. At EU level, strategic guidelines on setting up and implementing a methodology for intelligence-led law enforcement first appear in the Hague Programme.
In 2005, the UK Presidency of the EU Council brought to the attention of the MS the concept of the European Criminal Intelligence Model, aiming to improve knowledge of serious and organized crime thorough more effective collection, exchange and analysis of information and increase the effectiveness of Europol.
In December 2006, the Council adopted the Framework Decision on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the EU MS.
Later on, at the end of 2009, the Stockholm Programme, called for the adoption of an Internal Security Strategy. The provisions were aiming to ensure a higher level of security in the area of freedom, security and justice, calling for prevention and anticipation, based on a pro-active and intelligence-led approach.
This approach led to the development of The Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), undoubtedly, the most notable analytical instrument in the fight against serious and crime at strategically level.
The Renewed Internal Security Strategy (for the period 2015- 2020), stresses the important role of the EU Policy cycle for the fight against organised and serious international crime for strengthening operational cooperation as well as ensuring the proactive and criminal intelligence-led approach in this regard.
It also underlines that a swift and flexible intelligence-led approach should be followed, allowing the European Union to act in a comprehensive and coordinated way to emerging threats, including hybrid threats, and other challenges to the internal security of the EU.
In an era of digitalization, the need for innovation and cooperation is stronger than ever. Law enforcement authorities are challenged by the increasingly sophisticated threats such as cybercrime, trans-national crime, large – scale organized crime, extremism, terrorism.
The development of the information society, the introduction of mobile applications as well as the accentuation of the phenomenon of presence of the economic flows in the online environment, be side s the advantages offered, can also generate risks. Nowadays the pace of technology development tends to increase rapidly to an environment that has no borders. IT companies, researchers and even criminal concepts move towards a virtual world that will have its backbone in virtual reality rather than on streets. People’s identity, internet of things (IoT), social activities, currencies, transactions, legal procedures and human activity in general, on short and medium term will grow in an exponential manner the data digitalisation.
Since 2003 the development exploded, having in 10 years period a 1000 % growth and being in an ascending scale. It all began with smart computers, tablets, phones, reaching in the present days of not having any device that can’t be smart, almost any object we use being able to gather or even create data.
Adapting to the dynamics of the online environment is closely related to the development of the intelligence field as well as the development of information and communication technology.
This topic comes as a trigger for all Member States that is time to unify our efforts in the process of learning the „mysteries” of new developed technologies, through the creation of a knowledge HUB where the information can be available for everyone and where sharing best practices and lesson learnt represents a priority for all of us.
Are LEAs prepared to keep their capabilities up to date? Can we develop some mechanism to help each other in tackling new type of criminality? Are we able to patrol the web in search of a crime? Can we see the big picture in a virtual world that has no borders? Do we see the dissolution of the borders between the ”real” and the ”virtual” world? Can we deal with it?
As we think about all mentioned before, our mission becomes more and more connected and dependent to digital data, in the same way that our lives does. Crime-scene investigation continues with cyber forensics, field investigation of a suspect is combined with online investigation, physical security of any objective is dependent of its cyber security, situational awareness comes from intelligence gathered on field and online, for surveillance digital data related to the subject can be sometimes even more important than having visual direct contact, and those are only a few examples.
For concluding, almost no police activity is complete without addressing both physical and digital environment. In order to keep up with the dynamics of the criminal environment, all law enforcement authorities should be open to new approaches for combating and preventing crime.
Romania see the increased presence of digital data in citizens’ life as a challenge for law enforcement authorities. At the same time, the use of digital data could be turned to the advantage of law enforcement authorities, in order to more efficiently prevent and combat crime.
We feel that it’s high time to update the concept of “intelligence-led policing” with new, unified standards, adapted to the present international and European context, characterized by globalization and interconnection.