You are here

What we do

Cybercrime, the main legal framework of which is Law No. 109/2009 of 15 September (the Cybercrime Law), is not limited to the crimes described under that legal statute. Some other infringements join the concept: it is the case of the so called “common crimes” which are now committed in the digital environment.

In the judicial perspective, this new and difficult-to-grasp area created the need to deepen, consolidate and sediment the knowledge on multiple legal problems introduced by the new criminal practices.

Among others, the Cybercrime Office’s purposes include the coordination, the specific training of prosecutors, the interaction with the private sector and the criminal police — and the monitoring of concrete investigations, even if residually.

The legal framework for cybercrime and obtaining digital evidence has given rise, within prosecutors, to different opinions that have led in practice to different practical solutions in similar cases. It is an intention of the Cybercrime Office to coordinate the prosecutors’ activities in view that, tendentiously, similar criminal facts are legally treated in a coordinated and consistent manner by all the prosecutors. The same applies to the legal process of obtaining evidence in digital form, which has to be done consistently in concrete cases directed by prosecutors.

By statute, training prosecutors is primarily a task entrusted to the Centre for Judiciary Studies, which has developed generic training activities in the area of cybercrime. However, the past experience showed that, nevertheless, there is a need for specialised training focused on the specific activities of the prosecutors or particularly directed to prosecutors. Thus, without prejudice to the competence of the Centre for Judiciary Studies, the training provided by that Centre must be completed with sessions specifically addressed to prosecutors that combine the legal, technical and practical approaches.

On the other hand, the constant progress of technologies and the ensuing evolution in criminal methods and practices require a constant update and training.

The current model of criminal investigations practices often requires the collection of evidence in digital format, which further requires cooperation of private entities (namely Internet service providers). Such entities — usually commercial companies — are frequently the only holders of crucial information, often decisive for the determination of truth.

This new reality created new needs for interaction between law enforcement authorities and private entities. The Cybercrime Office intends to facilitate both informal and formal contacts between prosecutors in charge of criminal investigations and those third parties with a view to ensuring the effective functional collaboration by means of expeditious channels of communication — among others — with entities responsible for cyber security, in order to ensure prompt responsiveness when they are asked to fulfil their legal duties. As a result of this kind of actions, protocols have been negotiated and signed and memoranda of understanding have been established with different providers, national and global.

Currently, criminal investigations regarding the use of communications networks requiring the collection of electronic evidence are disseminated among the various criminal police bodies, which however — with the exception of the Polícia Judiciária — have limited experience in this area.

This operational environment created new challenges to the functional relationship between prosecutors and criminal police bodies, especially concerning the model of interaction and the delegation of powers regarding the investigation. In this respect, the Cybercrime Office has become more active in order to make the interaction more effective and to achieve a more expeditious action in this area, besides of promoting the good relationship of the criminal police bodies with third parties within investigations.

The general objectives described above — and in particular those which relate to coordination — assume the connection with the real world of concrete investigations of crimes committed within communications networks. These investigations and their effective resolution are the final reasons lying behind all the activities of the Cybercrime Office.  Another Cybercrime Office purpose is to identify the general trends regarding these types of criminal phenomena, which may require, in some cases, the monitoring of pending investigations both in a broader and generic form or, should the case require a special and direct approach, upon a closer monitoring procedure according to the Estatuto do Ministério Público (the Prosecution Service Statute).