How realistic is the idea of a global force to monitor and police Internet crime?

The most recent (but not the only) enthusiast for this has been <a href="http://www.f-secure.com/2008/q3/index.html"target="_blank">security company F-Secure</a>, whose spokesman-in-chief Mikko Hypponen even went as far as to suggest an ingenious name for the body, ‘Internetpol'.

Hypponen is right. The Internet does need an international body to ease the policing and make co-operation easier, but before getting carried away let's point out the difficulties. Governments talk about international co-operation, but rarely are the fine words followed through upon. The practical problems of designing, funding and ageing upon a remit for such an organisation from scratch are enormous.

The simpler answer to the problem is to say that such an organisation already exists and it's called Interpol. After early years based in Austria, the Belgians took it over after WW2, and turned it into an organisation specifically tasked to deal with organised crime, drug running and terrorism where crimes were likely to have been committed across jurisdictions. Crucially, it is able to arrest people in one country so that they can be returned to another where a crime has to be answered.

Interpol today is an incredibly important but relatively small part of modern policing, and operates using a cleverly devolved structure whereby a group of police in each member are given Interpol responsibility (evenRussia and the Ukraine are members). This stops the organisation becoming ossified and inward looking, or at least that is the theory.

Adding responsibility for e-crime to Interpol would be logical and easy, assuming that respective countries are willing to pay for extra staff in each body. This might not quite the all-encompassing Internetpol asked for, but it would be a start. Perhaps the bigger issue if law-making not policing, but that too is not insoluble in the Interpol model.

Interpol isn't a full-fledged police shop, but perhaps the age of Internet crime is a sign that it is time for the organisation to step up to a new level.