Within the framework of the Covid channel, which has been promoted by EL PAcCTO to face the pandemic, the shift in criminal activity and in order to facilitate the exchange of information between countries in Latin America and Europe, a virtual meeting was organised to deepen the investigations of the crimes committed over the internet during confinement.
Representatives from the Public Prosecutor’s Offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, met with representatives of the Spanish Attorney General and the Portuguese Attorney General’s Office in order to promote and improve the investigation of these crimes, and this means improving the collaboration between service providers, under conditions that prevent the profusion of letters rogatory.
The objectives included:
- Identify difficulties in investigating cybercrime, especially when it comes to requiring assistance from computer service providers with headquarters outside national borders.
- Deepen the exchange of experiences and good practices in the investigation of computer crimes.
- Facilitate the coordination of the relationships between the different institutions in the criminal chain, nationally and internationally.
- Establish the bases for implementing the programme after the first phase.
During the meeting, the importance of international cooperation for efficient investigation and criminal prosecution, in general, for any crime was highlighted. This cooperation takes on special relevance in the field of cybercrime, when, in most cases, the servers are located in jurisdictions other than those where the operators and victims are located.
AIAMP Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreement
In this area, the Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreement signed by 18 AIAMP Prosecutors and Attorneys General at the General Assembly held in Mexico City in 2018, is of utmost importance, since it provides a cooperation instrument for the direct exchange of information between public prosecutors in criminal investigations, the use of which has been increasing, especially during the pandemic.
In the formal sphere, changes can be highlighted in the international cooperation tools regulated or enshrined in the European Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention, which provides a very specialised catalogue of cooperation specifically designed to effectively obtain digital evidence from foreign countries.
Preserving information and formal requirements
Different stages or phases of cooperation in this area are distinguished. The first, and most important, is to preserve the information to avoid its loss. This can be done through bodies such as the 24/7 Network, which is regulated by the Budapest Convention, or directly with each internet service provider (Google, Microsoft, etc.).
One of the problems detected in direct cooperation with internet service providers is that each provider delivers different information (some only preserve, others also provide subscriber data, connection IPs, etc.), therefore, in order to obtain content, as a general rule, it will be necessary to send formal requirements, which will be evaluated according to the law in the applicable state. In the United States, for example, a “probable cause” standard, which is high, is required to be able to access requests.
Finally, the different cooperation stages also involve different levels of personal data protection. Thus, the degree of subscriber data protection is different from the content of messages, and this results in international requirements that must meet different protection criteria.
Participating countries have emphasised that, in inter-institutional cooperation, it is vitally important to continue exchanging experiences, good practices, challenges and information through the network of cybercrime experts (Cybernet).