This is the second post in our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.
By Steve Conlon, Economic Officer at the U.S. Mission to the EU
When we think about trade, we often picture boxes lined up in orderly rows on conveyor belts and big container ships. Trade evokes images of dollar bills and euro coins, of planes and trains and Sunday markets. Trade looks like a physical exchange, or it did at least, for the overwhelming majority of human history.
Over the past few decades, however, the digital economy has turned this notion of an exclusively physical trade on its head. In the 21st century, trade looks like online shopping, virtual books, web-streamed films, and – in the world of modern manufactured goods – global supply chains supported by huge and continuous flows of data across borders. Our means of making payments has shifted from over-the counter transactions to check-depositing apps, online credit card transfers, and Venmo. Most recently, currency itself is moving towards the digital realm, with Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Continue reading “U.S. and EU Lead the Way in a Profitable and Safe Digital Economy”
Throughout the holiday shopping season, consumers hunt for good bargains. Unfortunately, transnational criminal organizations are happy to offer opportunities through the sale of counterfeit goods, often sold through genuine-looking websites.
Organized crime groups have long been involved in the sale of counterfeit goods, which is very often tied to other criminal activity such as human trafficking, health and safety violations, and tax evasion. Over the last several years, counterfeit luxury goods, apparel, DVDs, and other fake items are increasingly sold through websites that mimic the sites of the manufacturers.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, where over 70 law enforcement officials from 21 countries were gathering, for the first time, to coordinate investigations into the criminal exploitation of virtual currencies, including Bitcoin. The meeting was co-organized by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the primary investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Our group of financial and cybercrime investigators and prosecutors discussed ongoing worldwide criminal cases involving the criminal use of virtual currencies to purchase narcotics and contraband online. One of our big concerns is the anonymity of financial transactions through some virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, and the challenges this poses to “following the money” during criminal investigations. Continue reading “U.S., European Partners Crack Down on Criminal Use of Virtual Currencies”
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at the Global Forum on Access to Safe Medicines in London. The event brought together pharmaceutical companies, companies that provide anti-counterfeiting technology, law enforcement, regulatory agencies from around the world, NGOs, patient groups, and academics to discuss how to protect people from substandard or counterfeit medicines. I spoke briefly about the efforts underway in the Transatlantic IPR Working Group to contribute to this effort. Continue reading “Using IPR Tools to Promote Safe Online Pharmacies”