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20 September 2013 - Media release

INTERPOL Chief warns of ‘invisible’ threats to personal and economic security

Transnational organized crime exploiting weaknesses in real and virtual worlds


YALTA, Ukraine – Cybercrime, counterfeit products and the ever-increasing movement of people and goods in both the real and virtual worlds pose a significant threat to global safety and security, the head of INTERPOL warned today.

Speaking at the 10th Yalta Annual Meeting in Ukraine, Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said the trade in fake and illicit goods is the ‘silent killer’ undermining economies with billions of dollars lost to the black market every year, and with potentially lethal products being sold to unsuspecting consumers.

The INTERPOL Chief also pointed to the challenges posed by fraudulent travel documents and the escalating levels of international travel and migration which are putting unprecedented pressure on national border security and law enforcement services.

“Borders can no longer be relied upon as the first, or last line of defence for countries, but instead represent opportunities for people smuggling and illicit trade, resulting in both a human and economic cost to society,” said Mr Noble.

Secretary General Noble made his remarks as part of a panel entitled ‘Shocks Ahead: Bad News and Good News’ which included Michio Kaku, Chair and Professor in Theoretical Physics, The City College of New York; General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired), Director, Central Intelligence Agency (2011 – 2012); Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government; and Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General, OSCE.

Addressing the meeting attended by more than 250 leaders from politics, business, society and media representing 20 countries, Mr Noble highlighted other security threats brought by the virtual world.

“Advances in technology mean we are facing security challenges which were unheard of until recently,” said Mr Noble, pointing again to an incident in Israel in July where a group of journalists smuggled a plastic gun produced by a 3-D printer into the Knesset parliament building and sat just metres from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“This gun was created thousands of miles away in the US and reached Israel without crossing a single physical border,” said Secretary General Noble.

“The challenge for us is that criminals are in a much better position than the police to take advantage of many of these innovations.

“To help level the playing field, we need to develop technology specifically designed to meet the needs of law enforcement, which we can only do through public-private partnerships building on our respective strengths and resources,” concluded the head of INTERPOL.

The 10th Yalta Annual Meeting (19 – 22 September) is focusing on global challenges and the factors of success which create strong, competitive, sustainable and fair countries and societies. Topics on the agenda include the global economy, energy security, threats and innovations transforming everyday lives, as well as successful leadership approaches.