WCO News – June 2016

WCO News June 2016 (1)The WCO has published the 80th edition of WCO News, the Organization’s flagship magazine aimed at the global Customs community.

This edition features a special dossier on illicit trade which gathers together articles focusing on the trafficking in various commodities such as cultural goods, small arms, fisheries products and pesticides, as well as articles highlighting the tools and technologies that can contribute to enhancing Customs enforcement capabilities.

Readers will also benefit from articles on how pollen analysis (palynology) has become an essential Customs forensic and intelligence tool in the United States, the challenges in accurately quantifying the illicit trade in tobacco, and why publishing time release study results is advantageous. Source: WCO

IRIS – WCO launches application to exploit open source information

WCO IRISOpen sources, such as the Internet, include a considerable amount of useful information for Customs purposes. For instance, such information can benefit Customs risk management through improved analysis and by enabling sounder decisions to be made on the basis of solid information, thereby providing decision-makers with better situational awareness.

The exploitation of this vast repository of data has become easier and markets are full of different tools that allow Customs officers to keep track of issues that impact on their daily work. Although many WCO Members already use such tools at the national level, no international tool exists that collects all this Customs related information together and makes it available in one location.

To fill this void, WCO Secretary General announced the launch of the Iris application during the Policy Commission meeting in Brazil on 8 December. Iris is a new and innovative tool which acts as an “aggregator” for all types of open source Customs information, and as such falls within the framework of the of theme of the year 2014, “Communication”.

The application utilizes Web-crawlers to search the Internet for news items and presents this information in a graphic-style world map in real-time. The system also allows for the storing of the “hits” on a specific database where they will be available for intelligence experts and other operational front-line Customs staff for further analysis.

Iris also allows the WCO to push out information about major Customs seizures which have been reported to the WCO Customs Enforcement Network (CEN) database or to the Global Shield application (seizure information itself will not be reported, but a notice about a seizure will be displayed).

“Iris is a ground-breaking initiative and will allow the WCO, for the first time, to monitor open source information on a 24/7/365 basis and to provide its Members with enhanced intelligence support”, declared Secretary General Mikuriya.

“The application also promotes CEN and Global Shield application and we hope it will encourage Members to increasingly report their seizures to both of these existing enforcement tools”, he added.

All WCO Members, Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs), and WCO staff will benefit from Iris. Its benefits extend beyond these specific user groups, as the application is aimed at a broader audience. Some of the Iris functionality will be made available to WCO’s private sector partners, the academic community, and the public.

Iris works in all different types of devices including smart phones and tablets. The system is hosted at https://iris.wcoomd.org and can also be accessed through the WCO’s website. Source: WCO

Global Shipping – One of the Last ‘Wild West’ Frontiers

WindwardShipping activity across the world’s oceans is the lifeblood of the global economy, transporting billions of tons of goods annually and facilitating global commodity flows of oil, coal, grains and metals. Vessel activity is also of critical importance to Intelligence and Security agencies worldwide, as criminal and terrorist activity has become increasingly global and borderless.

And yet, the oceans remain one of the last ‘wild west’ frontiers, with limited visibility on what ships are actually doing once they leave port. AIS data, the most widely used data on ship activity worldwide, underlies decisions from Finance to Intelligence, but the data is unreliable and increasingly manipulated by the very ships it seeks to track.

And this trend is growing, fast, with little-understood and far-reaching implications worldwide.

AIS data, used routinely by decision makers across industries, is widely perceived as a reliable source of information on ship activity worldwide. Massive financial investments and critical operational decisions are based on this data.

New research from Windward reveals that AIS data has critical vulnerabilities when used to track ships, an ‘off label’ use of the system. The data is increasingly manipulated by ships that seek to conceal their identity, location or destination for economic gain or to sail under the security radar.

Manipulation practices are varied, according to Windward’s research, and range from Identity Fraud, to Obscuring Destinations, ‘Going Dark,’ Manipulating GPS, and ‘Spoofing’ AIS. Ships that manipulate AIS undermine not only their own data, but the entire maritime global picture — once some of the data is corrupt, all data is suspect.

If this kind of manipulation is occurring on ships, consider the impact of ‘cargoes/substances’ on board ‘ghost ships’. You can find the Windward Research paper “Analysis of the Magnitude and Implications of Growing Data Manipulation at Sea” as well as a poignant infographic on their website, by clicking the hyperlinks. Source: Windward.eu

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