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Greater Caribbean Cooperation Needed to Combat Cyber Crimes

Gerard Best

The Caribbean is under virtual siege as incidents of cyber attacks and cyber crimes surge across the region.

"The sophisticated use of technology by highly incentivised criminal organisations has created unprecedented opportunities for transnational crime elements that no one region, country or entity can fight on its own. More inter-regional cooperation and collaboration are needed to develop and implement smart and integrated approaches to fight new and emerging cyber threats."

That's the recommendation proposed by Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the Organisation of American States (OAS), and chair of the OAS committee on hemispheric security. Failure to treat with rapidly escalating vulnerabilities will allow large areas of the hemisphere to remain exposed to increasing levels of cyber threat.

"Inter-regional stakeholders must work together to safeguard the cyber landscape of our hemisphere. There can be no effective regional response to modern transnational criminal activity without a current understanding among law enforcement and justice sector officials of how technology is being used to facilitate these activities," Phillips-Spencer said.

He emphasised the need to develop hemispheric policies rather than national policies. A more broad-based approach is required to enable regional governments, policy makers, agencies and other stakeholders to address issues of transnational organised crime, including money laundering and terrorist financing, he said.

He also underscored that the region could no longer afford to be a mere receiver or consumer of Internet development policies emerging from extra-regional fora.

"As a collective, the time is now for the region to make its voice heard by participating in the global dialogue around cybersecurity and organised, transnational crime," he said.

Phillips-Spencer was speaking at the second regional meeting of the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Group of the Caribbean Forum of the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), held in Bridgetown, Barbados on April 10.

"Technology is now a global lever, shifting the trajectory of national, social and political systems. This lever can be manipulated by interests that seek the common good, as well as by those with less noble motivations. For vulnerable developing nations, such as exist in the Caribbean, the adoption of technology-enabled systems and services comes with a responsibility to secure them that cannot easily be fulfilled," said Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Liaison for ARIN, and the organiser of the ARIN Caribbean Forum.

"There needs to be ongoing dialogue within law enforcement agencies in the Caribbean and with their international counterparts. This has to be built on a network of trusted relationships that safeguard the interests of the region and the global Internet," he added.

It seems that law enforcement and public safety agencies in the Caribbean are recognising the urgent need to mobilise differently, in order to effectively respond to the trends and threats enabled by the Internet.

The ARIN law enforcement and public safety group meeting were attended by more than 35 officials, representing organisations from Canada, the Caribbean, the European Union, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States. The meeting focused on how ARIN and other regional Internet registries can assist law enforcement and public safety agencies in detecting and responding to cybersecurity incidents. The theme for 2019 is "collaborating to strengthen national and regional Internet security in the Caribbean."

ARIN, a Washington-DC based non-profit organisation, manages Internet number resources in Canada, the United States and several Caribbean territories. The ARIN Caribbean Forum was launched in April 2018 to strengthen ties and deepen collaborations with public sector officials, law enforcement agencies and members of the Internet technical community in the Caribbean. The justice sector group of the ARIN Caribbean Forum is organised in collaboration with APEX, a Caribbean-based justice technology agency established by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist
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