As our world is transformed by the revolution in information technology, cyber crooks exploit every opportunity they find. While cybercrime threats can come from anywhere – from lone individuals to nation states – the greatest challenges arise from emerging transnational networks that allow once-isolated criminals to join forces with one another, often anonymously.

Long-established transnational organized crime groups are also constantly finding new ways to use technology to facilitate traditional crimes, for example using virtual currencies and the Deep Web to create illicit global markets.  Fast evolving cybercrime techniques poses a tremendous challenge to law enforcement, especially where real time cooperation is required among developing nations with limited resources.

Intellectual property (IP) theft also adapts technology to wreak havoc – for example:

  • Inflicting billions of dollars in losses to rights holders and legitimate businesses around the world, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs
  • Undermining important American advantages in innovation and creativity
  • Posing risks to consumer health and safety in industries as different as auto and aviation parts to pharmaceuticals and healthcare products
  • Funding transnational organized crime networks trade in counterfeit and pirated products also provides crooks with the means to bribe and corrupt the rule of law
  • Hindering the economic development of countries worldwide as well as the United States

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 promotes American policies on cybercrime and IP crime enforcement through bilateral relationships with countries worldwide, as well as via multilateral and regional institutions including the G-7, United Nations, Organization of American States, African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

INL’s goal is to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation while identifying and remedying “weak links” in the global enforcement architecture that can be exploited by transnational organized crime groups. We pursue this goal by urging nations to enforce key international treaties and conventions such as 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 also acts to strengthen foreign partner enforcement capacity by funding bilateral and multilateral cybercrime and IP theft training and technical assistance.  A key tool to address global crime networks is the U.S. Transnational and High Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network (GLEN), an adaptive initiative that deploys experienced U.S. law enforcement experts abroad to deliver sustained training to foreign counterparts designed to deliver near-term operational success.  INL also operates a global network of International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEA) which provide similar assistance.  While most commonly INL training is designed for prosecutors and investigators, INL also provides legislative drafting advice to legislators in countries establishing legal frameworks related to cybercrime and IP protection. In addition, INL trains judges, customs, and border agents in nations that seek to build stronger enforcement at their frontiers. To ensure that the most effective assistance is provided, INL works with U.S. law enforcement partners to craft training that reflects the latest trends in crime reported by U.S. private industry in the Special 301 Report issued by the United States Trade Representative. INL also consults with other donor nations to de-conflict and complement other training efforts.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future