Black hole: E-crime can be committed with ‘impunity’

Criminals are able to defraud people online with virtual impunity and secure significant profits, an influential committee of MPs has found.

A ten-month inquiry by the home affairs committee called for a dedicated state of the art espionage response team for e-crime, to deal with the glaring hole in the government's crime strategy.

"If we don't have a 21st century response to this 21st century crime, we will be letting those involved in these gangs off the hook," chairman Keith Vaz said.

"At the moment the law enforcement response to e-criminals is fractured."

Criminal activity which defrauds victims of money is often not reported, MPs found.

Banks tend to reimburse victims with no effort to pursue perpetrators. The committee called on banks to be forced to report all e-crime to law enforcement agencies.

MPs also raised the alarm over the ease with which criminals can post extremist literature and indecent images of children online.

The report comes just a week after David Cameron promised a crackdown on online porn and child pornography.

To a certain extent, today's report strengthens his hand by raising the prospect of legislation against internet service providers.

"What starts on the web, ends up on the streets of Woolwich," Vaz said.

"The prime minister was right to highlight the responsibility of the internet service providers, search engines and social media sites.

"They are far too laid back about what takes place on their watch and they need to do more to take inappropriate content down. If they do not act, the government should legislate."

MPs also raised concerns that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is having its budget cut by ten per cent over four years and warned that it could lose its focus when it is merged with the National Crime Agency.