The UK Government is leading global efforts to stamp out cyber crime with the launch of a national crime squad to prevent hacking and internet fraud and pornography.
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Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision to give the London-based National Criminal Intelligence Service £337,000 to draw up plans for the squad coincides with reports of attempts to set up a "world cyber crime treaty".
Reports on the Usenet discussion group claim a treaty could be in place by the end of 2000, though experts believe this is impractical.
The UK cyber crime unit will include technology experts from the private sector, the Inland Revenue and GCHQ. The centre is likely to be based at the NCIS, but a separate centre may be set up at Scotland Yard.
Security experts believe, however, that police politics have delayed the move as there are already several police departments concerned with computer crime.
Attempts to set up a worldwide cyber crime treaty are unlikely to succeed until the structure of policing in other parts of the world changes. According to Peter Sommer, a specialist in cyber crime: "We can only have a cyber crime treaty when a worldwide policing force operates, and that is unlikely to happen in the near future."