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By Ashwant Dwivedi

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 12, 2000 – Prabhaat News/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's police chief Isikia Savua has expressed serious concern over a growing threat of computer crime in Fiji.

Savua claims that any breach of the law is worrying and computer crime is a growing concern for Fiji's Police Department.

He has raised concern that children as young as 12 could also be involved in sexual activity on the Internet and being subscribed members of adult web pages without knowledge of their parents.

"The biggest concern for the police department is the apparent lethargy of the government and the law enforcement agency about computer crime," Savua said.

He said that computer crime starts with e-commerce (and moves) to sex crimes, credit card frauds and much more.

Savua said that with an increase of computer use in Fiji many people now have access to the Internet and the use would grow.

"Computer crimes are taking place everyday and yet we are not doing anything about it," Savua said.

Savua said that if the law enforcement agencies in Fiji failed to take any immediate action then computer criminals would be ahead of us.

"Everybody has a role to play and we must start to play that role," Savua said.

He said that the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Police Department and the government's information technology departments would have to come together and address the issues.

"We have to lay the ground work for the mechanism so that the computer crimes can be encountered," Savua said.

He said there were many crimes involving computers in this country but a small, small number of these cases were reported to the police.

"For example, if a person has been a victim of a credit card fraud, that particular person will report the matter to the credit card company and try and recover the loss sustained. So once that person has successfully recovered the money from the credit card company that person would not want to take any initiative to report the matter to police for an investigation because that person has recovered what he or she has lost," Savua said.

Savua said that the issue had also been discussed at the recent commissioners of police conference in Australia.

Police commissioners attended the conference from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Savua said that a total of 900 million people globally are expected to use Internet by the end of this year.

"People who will abuse these technologies have the capacity to commit offences on a global basis, with complete anonymity, with speed and on a scale not previously encountered. Such criminal behavior threatens the viability of key industries such as banking and tourism and can have a fundamental impact on the health and safety of the economy," Savua said.

He said credit card fraud was one of the major concerns worldwide.

The Australian Federal Police headquarters in Australia said that the commissioners in their conference had agreed and accepted that information technology was one of the greatest problems law enforcement bodies were facing.

Savua said that Fiji has also been a target of credit card fraud.

"We, in past years, have caught some people who have tried to defraud business houses using credit card. These people whom we have caught previously are just the tip of the iceberg. We still have so many out there that we will have to catch," Savua said.

Savua said that he would hold talks with Telecom Fiji, which is the host for Internet services in Fiji, and other law enforcement agencies and organizations to find ways in which Internet crime and criminals could be targeted.

He said that at present there is no law which stops any person regardless of their age for chatting on adult websites and doing cyber sex.

"I would like to appeal to the parents that if your children have access to Internet please keep an eye on them," Savua said.

He said that parents also had a major role to play in policing their children.

"School teachers should also try and talk to children about computer crimes," he urged.

Savua said that in some cases computer crime also involved the exchange of pornographic pictures on Internet using email.

"As one would remember, Fiji has been targeted by people who were having sex with young children. Children should be warned that they should not send any of their pictures to strangers and give any personal details about themselves to a stranger," Savua warned.

Savua said that some of the electronic crime involved theft of telecommunications services, telecommunication piracy, electronic money laundering and tax evasions, electronic vandalism and terrorism sales and investment frauds and much more.

He said that in computer crime valid credit card numbers could be intercepted electronically, as well as physically, and the digital information stored on the card can also be counterfeited.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer said that the commissioners were acutely aware of the need for law enforcement to support electronic commerce and economic growth.

"In addition to the economic cost of e-crime, there are the human and social costs of crimes such as child pornography, racist propaganda and terrorism, which are increasingly exploiting cyberspace," Palmer said.

Title -- 2659 CRIME: Fiji police chief warns of computer crime Date -- 12 April 2000 Byline -- Ashwant Dwivedi Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Prabhaat News, ashwantd@hotmail.com 12/4/00 Copyright – PN Status -- Unabridged

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