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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Crime


As information technology spreads throughout the world, cyber crooks work to exploit a target-rich environment. While cybercrime threats may arise from a variety of sources – from lone individuals to nation states – the greatest challenge comes where technology enables once-isolated criminals to join forces. New transnational cybercrime syndicates exploit online anonymity and weak enforcement to marry high profit with a low chance of being caught. At the same time, existing transnational organized crime groups use computers to facilitate traditional crimes. These diverse criminal networks constantly evolve ways to interact with each other, posing tremendous challenges to law enforcement, especially in developing nations with limited resources.

Intellectual property (IP) crime causes significant financial losses for rights holders and legitimate businesses around the world, undermines key U.S. comparative advantages in innovation and creativity and, where it involves products such as medicines or car parts, can pose risks to consumer health and safety. As with cybercrime, trade in counterfeit and pirated products fuels cross-border organized criminal networks and hinders the sustainable economic development of many countries.

Due to the borderless nature of these crimes, international law enforcement cooperation is essential to protecting American citizens and businesses. INL targets cybercrime and IP theft through a combination of diplomatic and programmatic initiatives.

Promoting International Cooperation: INL works to promote United States policies on cybercrime and IP crime enforcement in multilateral and bilateral fora like the G-8, United Nations, Organization of American States, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations. INL’s goal is to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation while identifying common responses to “weak links” in enforcement that can be exploited by transnational organized crime groups. Examples include countries or regions with inadequate laws or enforcement units. INL urges nations to join and enforce key international instruments like the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and the World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property agreement. INL also shares ideas with other nations on ways to better cooperate in identifying, prosecuting and punishing cyber and IP criminals.

Building Enforcement Capacity: INL provides funding to enable U.S. law enforcement to train foreign counterparts on combating cybercrime and IP crime. Training is tailored to specific regional and country needs. The most common form is training for prosecutors and investigators. However, INL also provides legislative drafting assistance where countries are still working to establish legal frameworks, or training for judges, customs and border agents, if help is needed in those sectors. To ensure the most effective assistance is provided, U.S. enforcement training is closely coordinated with U.S. private industry, as well as other donors.


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