Local and federal police investigators will soon be able to “infiltrate” the Internet to fight against crime under a decree issued by Justice Minister Koen Geens, L’Echo daily reported on Tuesday. The measure will allow police officers to make contact, possibly using fictitious identities, with people suspected of crimes punishable with prison sentences of at least one year, such as trafficking in drugs, arms and child pornography, when there is strong reason to believe they are guilty of such crimes.
They will also be able to try and track down stolen objects such as cars and smartphones, make contact with people sending out threatening messages, or unmask pedophiles.
In six years, the number of cybercrimes has doubled, rising to 14,757 in 2017, whereas other crimes have gone down. To curb the shift in crime towards the Internet, Minister Geens (CD&V – Christian Democratic and Flemish – party) modified the law on special investigation methods. The corresponding royal implementation decree has just been validated by the Commission for the Protection of Privacy.
The Federal judicial police and local police forces will appoint those of their officers who may infiltrate the Internet. These officers will receive their missions from a court magistrate. Before they can participate in such missions, they will first have to complete a specific internal training run by the police.