Three out of four business crimes in Turkey are conducted online, and national and international regulations to address the problem are urgently needed, according to Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim.
"The internet means freedom, but ignoring security on this issue is out of the question," Yildirim said.
The cyber crimes, which range from personal data theft to designing and spreading malware, are targeted to disrupt business practices and networks as well as to steal company information and funds.
Greater internet use is one factor in the crime rate. E-trade in Turkey conducted with personal credit cards, increased 50% compared to last year to nearly 10 billion euros. Similarly, the number of broadband subscribers increased 80%, while data traffic marked a 15-fold increase.
"In Turkey, 55 million people are using the internet," Tayfun Acarer, head of Turkey's Telecommunications Authority, told SES Türkiye.
The business crime trend in Turkey parallels the global annual trend of a 13% increase, while elsewhere in the region, online business crime is surging: in Bulgaria it doubled in 2011 from the previous year, as it did in Greece.
Sofia hosted the first regional conference on cyber security and cyber crime last October, but neither country has adopted legislation often enough to keep up with changing technologies.
Online crimes in Turkey are sanctioned by Law No. 5651 on Regulating Broadcasting on the Internet and Fighting Crimes Committed through Internet Broadcasting.
This law, however, does not specifically target online business crimes. The much debated internet filtering system or "safe internet", which kicked off in late 2011, protects against possible hacker and other illegal intrusions in online trading.
Amid growing concerns that online crime will affect the nation's business potential, many have called on the government to pass and implement additional, more effective, regulations.
"This year we will pass a new law which will bring criminal sanctions against all kinds of abusive use of electronic trade," Mahmut Mucahit Findikli, head of parliament's Information and Technology Commission, told SES Türkiye.
The wider benefit of the new law is that it will clarify the framework for electronic trading of goods and services, Findikli added.
Some officials and legal experts argued, however, that legal regulations are not sufficient enough to discourage business crime online.
An effective approach, they said, also requires an increased number of educated IT experts and a more focused police workload.
"The most important measure is for users to take the necessary technical precautions to protect their personal data," Acarer said.
Yet another problem is implementation, Sertel Siraci, a lawyer specialising in online business crime, told SES Türkiye.
He pointed out that online crime requires applying more dynamic precautions than other kinds of crime.
"Online criminals are inventing new ways to cheat every day and it takes time for the experts, prosecutors, police and lawyers to learn the new methods to judge the criminals. This vicious circle has continued for centuries but it plays out much faster in the online domain," he concluded.
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