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