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European police to seize domains and IPs

Plans to create a cybercrime task force with the power to seize web sites suspected of being used for illegal purposes were yesterday agreed by European ministers.

The EU's General Affairs Council set the European Commission the task of creating more detailed proposals for the centre, probably based at Europol. Its remit will be to "adopt a common approach in the fight against cybercrime internationally, particularly in relation to the revocation of domain names and IP addresses”.

In Britain, Nominet - the not-for-profit private company that administers .uk domain names - already has the power to seize suspect domains. The controversial Digital Economy Act, which passed into law earlier this month, gives the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Peter Mandelson, the power to replace Nominet if it doesn't take sufficient action to clamp down on cyber crime.

The EU will find it more difficult to implement its plan to revoke individual IP addresses, as these are handed out by hundreds of ISPs which are likely to oppose the burden of more regulatory red tape.

In addition to announcing plans for the new cybercrime centre, the Council of Ministers urged police forces in member states to co-operate further on child pornography, and to produce pan-European cybercrime statistics.