Rethinking INTERPOL’s Governance Model

Today, the international community faces increasingly complex security challenges arising from transnational criminal activities. Effective international cooperation among national police agencies is critical in combatting cross-boundary criminal threats like terrorism, human and drug trafficking, and cybercrime. INTERPOL—the world’s largest international police organization— has aggressively worked to counter criminal networks across the globe by facilitating international police cooperation through global information sharing via its criminal databases. To conduct cross-border investigations and tackle organized crime, the law enforcement agencies around the globe can instantly access millions of records on fingerprints, DNA, stolen motor vehicles, firearms, and travel documents stored in INTERPOL’s databases. Only the designated law enforcement agencies from INTERPOL’s member countries are authorized to share and add information to these databases.

Advances in digital technologies and proliferation of communication platforms have created new challenges for the law enforcement. Criminal actors increasingly use private corporate entities, like Internet Service Providers, other telecommunications entities, and social media platforms, to coordinate criminal activities, such as trafficking in persons, terrorism, or cybercrime.  Those private sector actors also are potentially critical repositories of information about criminal activity, including communications about members of criminal networks and financial information. Effective law enforcement operations accordingly often depend on information exchange with private sector. Law enforcement authorities face difficulty in effectively accessing, analyzing, and utilizing information from private sector actors in third countries. INTERPOL strives to innovate to adequately respond to the evolving threat landscape and remain at the forefront of global policing efforts. Therefore, it is committed to reviewing and improving its policies on collecting, handling, and sharing data from private sector sources, particularly sources in the technology industry.

Under the supervision of the faculty, students in this practicum will work with INTERPOL to enhance its role in cooperating with private sector actors to better fight cyber-crime, terrorism, and other forms of transnational crime. Students will conduct comparative analysis on how select INTERPOL member countries and other relevant international law enforcement agencies exchange information with private sector while safeguarding privacy and protecting civil liberties. Based on this in-depth comparative research, the team will then propose a policy guidance for INTERPOL on information exchange with private sector.

This practicum takes place for two quarters (Fall and Winter). Although students may enroll for either one or both quarters, preference is given to students who agree to enroll for both quarters. Students will work directly with INTERPOL clients (via video-conferencing and email) and may have opportunities to travel to INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon over the Spring Break for meetings with clients to develop our policy guidance and provide policy briefings. Selected students in the practicum may also have the opportunity to pursue internships and/or externships at the Office of Legal Affairs, INTERPOL General Secretariat in Lyon, France and/or at INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore.

This Practicum is open to students from the Law School (both JDs/LLMs/JSMs/JSDs), the Graduate School of Business, International Policy Studies, the School of Communications, the Computer Science Department, and other graduate students outside of the SLS. Practicum will meet weekly on Wednesdays, from 9:00-10:30 am and hold regular discussion sessions with senior INTERPOL officials via VCT.

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Allen S. Weiner

  • Senior Lecturer in Law
  • Director, Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law
  • Director, Stanford Humanitarian Program
  • Director, Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation

Clients & Deliverables



IMAGE: The Stanford Law and Policy Lab Practicum Research Team at INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France.

Rethinking INTERPOL’s Governance Model 3

Rethinking INTERPOL's Governance Model: Video