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Cybercrime Prosecution is a Nightmare
Cripple computers worldwide with a virus, escape scot-free, access a website illegally, earn an arrest warrant in your name.

Before the proliferation of the Internet created a new playground for criminal activity, the life of a criminal-at-large was pretty straightforward. Do a crime, do the time...

The advent of Cybercrime has warranted a classification all unto itself. New laws specifically written for electronic criminal activity are needed before prosecution for electronic crimes can be meted out. I'm not a judge, but why existing laws for injury can't be applied to electronic criminal activity is beyond me.

Savvy criminals understand the judicial system and launch their illegal agendas from countries that lack electronic criminal laws.

This means that if your country of residence doesn't have any laws in place to prohibit electronic criminal activity you can effectively escape prosecution.

This is how criminal activity can affect thousands, even millions of others worldwide, and yet the perpetrator can just shrug it all off.

We all know that the creator of the Love Bug Virus did just that. He caused severe damage to personal, corporate and government data. His actions caused financial loss, and I'm sure any decent lawyer could argue for emotional distress, as well, for the victims! Talk about "Love hurts!"

The individual was identified, but was not immediately apprehended because the Philippine investigators scratched their heads in dismay over what law(s) to charge the individual with violating. In the end, the father of the Love Bug Virus was hassled and inconvenienced, but that was about it.

Distressed by the severity of the Love Bug Virus' consequences, a selection of world leaders met six months ago to discuss Internet crime and initiated attempts to draft a treaty to standardize cybercrime laws.

Unfortunately, not every government participated in those group meetings, nor does every government want to participate. Nothing substantial has resulted from those meetings to even begin to formulate an international or global policy or treaty to deal with cybercrime.

Individual governments have different agendas on their back burners, but a few nations have independently drafted cybercrime laws that conflict with other nation's laws and could inevitably hamper the possible prosecution of criminals committing cybercrimes.

Germany, for example, absolutely prohibits distributing Nazi propaganda, yet here in the United States our free speech laws permit Nazi propaganda to be distributed.

Child pornography is illegal in almost every industrialized nation. Just this Saturday, Italian investigators in Italy sought international warrants against almost 1,600 individuals worldwide suspected of participating in online child pornography. Efforts to successfully serve those 1600 warrants are as yet unpublicized, but the logistics to enable such a worldwide effort indicate the ferocity that some governments plan to take in regards to cybercrime.

An additional 1,030 international warrants are being granted pending the completed investigations of the Italian police. Those additional 1,030 international warrants are to be granted as soon as Internet users who entered a Web site named "Childlovers" are identified.

In no way am I condoning child pornography, but to serve a warrant on someone who entered a site with the ambiguous name of Childlovers just doesn't seem entirely fair. The name unto itself is not clearly pornographic in nature.

Your pregnant wife may have done a web search on children and clicked on a link to the Childlovers site, and I doubt she should qualify as a participant of online child pornography, nor should she suffer the indignity of discovering there's an international warrant in her name. Perhaps that Web site is clearly pornographic, but I'm not going there to find out.

What if Germany issues International warrants to Internet users who accesses web sites that distribute Nazi propaganda? Should your teenager researching World War II be served with an arrest warrant? Should your computer equipment be seized as your teen is handcuffed and escorted out your front door?

What if Saudi Arabia aggressively served international warrants to women who did not cover their faces with veils?

The point that I am trying to make is that without an International Treaty, one that is duly hammered out to define what can or cannot be deemed criminal, the ramifications of foreign countries issuing International warrants to be served on Internet users can be frightening.

Clearly cybercrime and/or electronic criminal activity is an issue of global proportions that by its very nature necessitates the willing participation of every nation to arrive at some sort of blanket International treaty that provides for the prosecution of those that commit crimes, those that cause damage and details retribution methods that victims could pursue.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many nations who have formed too many groups. Each of them is claiming the power to regulate this or that, yet all of them are impotent to enact any meaningful legislation of global significance. Independent aggressive policing of the Internet by selected countries is just as frightening, if not more so, than no regulation at all.

well worth a look

Spyware Bill Introduced in Congress
Lack of full disclosure by some software makers prompts legislative action.

Senator Edwards is riding the wave of public concern over the failure of certain software programs to fully disclose the presence of Spyware, or software that silently communicates via the Internet without disclosing to the user its presence. The eager Senator has introduced a legislative bill to regulate spyware, but allows what he deems as approved spyware to continue operating.

Aureate, now Radiate piggybacked its program onto hundreds of popular free software downloads like AcqURL, CuteFTP, Go!Zilla (just to name a few) for the purpose of keeping those downloaded software programs free. Radiate works with software companies to make their programs free by supporting the programs' costs with advertising revenue.

Hundreds of other software applications also employ similar software programs on top of their applications to keep themselves free like RealDownload, Netscape's AOL Smart Download, and NetZip's Download Demon to name just a few.

Everyone loves free, right?

It's the lack of consumer knowledge that such a program has been installed on your system that has understandably caused all the commotion. It is a good reason to restrain yourself from clicking "yes" to the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) before you've taken a moment to read the entire agreement.

The purpose of the Spyware Control and Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator Edwards last month is to ensure that software manufacturers clearly provide users with conspicuous notice at the time of a program's installation that the software product contains programs classified as "spyware".

The Spyware Control and Privacy Protection Act further dictates that such notice should detail exactly what information would be collected from the user and to whom such information would be sent. Also mandated by the Act is the stipulation that spyware programs piggy-backed onto software programs lie dormant until they are enabled by the consumer.

If the Spyware Control and Privacy Protection Act is enacted, then additional mandates by the Act will ensure that the information collected from the user by software programs installed is properly encrypted and protected from malicious use by the software manufacturers.

But, hey! Senator Edward allowed for some exemptions to the above requirements of full disclosure to the user that he categorizes as "common sense". Senator Edwards doesn't think a user's consent should have to be obtained if a spyware program provides information for technical support or verifies that the program's user is one and the same as the licensed user of a software program. What happened to the spirit of Full Disclosure?

You see here very clearly that it is who is in control that decides what the user is notified of or not.

I find it ludicrous that a legislative bill presented solely for the purpose of ensuring that full disclosure is made to a user, should contain exceptions that allow for what Senator Edwards deems as approved spyware to continue to exist without the same requirements for disclosure.

I think Senator Edwards should carry the spirit of requiring full disclosure to the user in its entirety, by simply requiring that complete disclosure of all capabilities of a program to transmit sensitive information be made to the end user.

Isn't this what started the spyware bandwagon in the first place? Those in charge who deemed that certain information can be rightly collected without a user's knowledge or consent? I say, if you're going to enact legislation for full disclosure to the user, then fully disclose the whole she-bang!


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