Middle East piracy efforts given a boost

Egyptian government body ITIDA and BSA hold joint regional workshop in bid to stem the rise in cyber crime in the region.

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By  Dawinderpal Sahota Published  September 18, 2007

Anti-piracy authority Business Software Alliance (BSA) and Egyptian government body Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) have teamed up in a bid to tackle the rise of cyber crime in the Middle East.

The two parties recently held the first workshop on cyber crime and intellectual property rights in the region.

The three-day event, which took place at the Smart Village in Egypt, attracted some of the key figures from the region's IT community, according to the organisers.

Mohamed Hegazy, manager, Intellectual Property Office at ITIDA, said the workshop was "a critical step towards eliminating cyber crime in the region".

"The initiative will help to standardise the efforts and processes of all regional players in dealing with cyber crime and IPR issues, facilitating smoother inter-agency cooperation and boosting results," he said.

Hegazy revealed the Egyptian agency is dedicating a "significant portion" of its resources to combating cyber crime, claiming the criminal activity has been one of the biggest obstacles to realising the country's full economic potential.

The Middle East and Africa was one of only two geographical regions that saw an increase in the piracy rate from 2005 to 2006, according to the BSA. The region had a 60% piracy rate in 2006, corresponding to US$2 billion in losses in 2006 in comparison to the US$1.6 billion in 2005, according to figures cited by the BSA.

The potential for increased piracy has been fuelled by the growth of IT in the region, Jawad Al Redha, co-chairman Middle East at BSA said.

"The IT industry has increased exponentially and continues to create new growth prospects," he said. "But it is also no secret that this robust performance has opened opportunities for illegal trade, whose negative economic impact can be felt in terms of lost tax revenues, job layoffs and compromised business operations because of unreliable counterfeit software."

Cyber crime incorporates software piracy, credit card fraud, cyber pornography, online sale of illegal articles such as drugs, weapons and endangered wildlife, online gambling, IPR violations, e-mail spoofing, forgery using computer scanners and printers, cyber defamation and even cyber stalking.

"It is essential for all of us to show a united front against this alarming criminal activity through collaborative efforts such as the regional workshop on cyber crime and intellectual property rights," Al Redha added.

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