Acpo sets up unit to define Internet law

A SERIES of confidential meetings is being held between the Internet industry, the police and governmental bodies in a bid to clarify the law on computer crime.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) held the first meeting on 7 November at the Department of Trade and Industry's Victoria Street offices, with the next meeting scheduled for February.

Acpo, the only organisation which discusses police matters nationally, has set up a special unit specifically to look at computer crimes.

Representatives from the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Home Office, and major Internet providers British Telecom, America On-Line, London Internet Exchange (Linx) and UUNet UK were among 30 organisations who attended.

UUNet UK lawyer Sally Weatherall said she hoped the meetings would produce a set of guidelines governing Internet-related crime such as fraud, pornography and the ability of the police to extend their phone tapping powers to the Internet.

Whether the police have the same powers regarding "Internet-tapping" as with "telephone-tapping" is one example of confusion, she added.

Weatherall said the results of the discussions would largely depend on the views of Linx and industry body, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), who are influential in the industry.