The Hague, 20 February 2009
Eurojust coordinates internet telephony investigations
Ms Carmen Manfredda, acting National Member for Italy, will take the lead in coordinating a Europe-wide investigation on internet telephony (VoIP).
At the request of Direzione Nazionale Antimafia in Rome, the Italian Desk at Eurojust will play a key role in the coordination and cooperation of the investigations on the use of internet telephony systems (VoIP), such as “Skype”. Eurojust will be available to assist all European law enforcement and prosecution authorities in the Member States. The purpose of Eurojust’s coordination role is to overcome the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of internet telephony systems, taking into account the various data protection rules and civil rights.
Criminals in Italy are increasingly making phone calls over the internet in order to avoid getting caught through mobile phone intercepts. Police officers in Milan say organised crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype and other systems of VoIP in order to frustrate investigators. Skype's encryption system is a secret which the company refuses to share with the authorities. Investigators have become increasingly reliant on wiretaps in recent years. Customs and tax police in Milan have highlighted the Skype issue. They overheard a suspected cocaine trafficker telling an accomplice to switch to Skype in order to get details of a 2kg drug consignment. Investigators are convinced that the interception of telephone calls have become an essential tool of the police, who spend millions of Euros each year tracking down crime through wiretaps of landlines and mobile phones.
Following a meeting with the judicial authorities in Milan, Italy, Ms Manfredda commented:
“The possibility of intercepting internet telephony will be an essential tool in the fight against international organised crime within Europe and beyond. Our aim is not to stop users from taking advantage of internet telephony, but to prevent criminals from using Skype and other systems to plan and organise their unlawful actions. Eurojust will make all possible efforts to coordinate and assist in the cooperation between Member States”.
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