Crime Online

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nate Anderson, deputy editor of Ars Technica and the author of The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013), looks at specific cases of online crime and what they demonstrate about the contradictions of easier access to anonymity and surveillance.


Excerpt: The Internet Police


. . .“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind,” declared John Perry Barlow in his infamous 1996 manifesto, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

Barlow was a Wyoming rancher, a sometime-lyricist for the Grateful Dead, and a passionate defender of early online communities like the Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link (WELL). He helped to launch the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a pioneering digital rights group still prominent and effective today. His declaration was an over-the-top howl of dissent against US government actions regarding the Internet—but the delightful bombast staked out quite a serious position, one appealing to the well-off, technically savvy early netizens: the Internet would solve its own problems, thank you very much.

With the benefit of fifteen years’ perspective—hardly a fair advantage, to be sure, when critiquing a visionary statement—Barlow’s frantic repudiation of existing institutions looks breathtakingly radical and improbably utopian. Penile enlargement e-mails, offers from Nigerian princes, phishing attempts from “your bank,” million-strong computer botnets, cyberwarfare, stolen credit cards traded openly in hacker forums, online “sextortion” using stolen nude photos, corporate espionage, the underground online market for child sex abuse imagery, anonymous defamation in online forums—all these would be addressed how, exactly, without government? . . .

Excerpted from The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed by Nate Anderson. Copyright © 2013 by Nate Anderson. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.



Nate Anderson

Comments [7]

An apparent example of Tor being used to save lives:

Tor and Tor Project working against domestic violence victims, human trafficking, helping victims:

Aug. 21 2013 12:27 PM
john A

Getting more of a corrupting thing easily just corrupts people more. And thats the Internet that you and I use. I caught the fresh air yesterday too snd the suggestion that 'the lawless Internet - that Was a problem' is wrongminded. Internet is crazy lawless still.

Aug. 21 2013 11:48 AM
Uncle Ernie

Regarding the above comment, do bear in mind that in the large excerpt from Nate's book posted on the Ars Technica website there were plenty of mentions of Eastern European "entrepreneurs" producing child pornography for the purpose of feeding the appetites of those who trade in that stuff.

The reason we punish those that possess and traffic is because they are now more than in the past the consumers that drive the creation of the child porn.

Aug. 21 2013 11:41 AM

Tape-over the webcam lens to be sure.

Aug. 21 2013 11:39 AM
Jerry from UES

Can your guest speak about "blackmail forever"? Everything even our grammar fingerprints will be traced back to us.

Aug. 21 2013 11:34 AM
NSA Troll Account #453779 from Everywhere

All posts in this thread expressing discontent with the current regime of surveillance and monitoring will be logged and noted on your personal file. Thank you for your cooperation.

Aug. 21 2013 11:27 AM

1.) I caught the tail-end of Mr. Anderson's appearance on yesterday's Fresh Air and heard him mention the current popularity and success of The Silk Road, a Tor Hidden Service site dedicated to the trade of illegal drugs. I wonder whether Mr. Anderson has given any thought as to how much of such traffic may involve cases where such drugs are being used for legitimate medical purposes. In many, if not most places, including all-but-a few U.S. states, even patients who find the only relief from the miserable effects of chemotherapy in marijuana, cannot obtain it legally. Another area where current law, in at least many cases, seems draconian and unjust, if not downright /unconscionable/, is that regarding drugs for pain relief. Congressman Ron Paul, a physician, has a compelling piece on this, "Rush Limbaugh and the Sick Federal War on Pain Relief", which he delivered before congress back in 2004 and which can be read at Lew Rockwell's site:

2.) Regarding child pornography, I would like to quote a comment that was posted to Mr. Anderson's web site, Ars Technica, back in June of 2012.

"I caught part of Assange's last episode and I must say I agree with one of the opinions shared. Child pornography is a symptom of a larger malaise in society, namely child abuse and exploitation. Simply putting so much emphasis on one medium of distribution (media delivered via the internet) suppresses and ignores what is going on all around us. Really, its a snap shot of a reality that is part of the fabric of society. Destroying the evidence of it in one aspect does nothing to address it.

It is simply an act of making unseen what is clearly a problem more widespread and larger than people looking at videos and pictures. Even if we were to imagine that we wiped out every single cache available online, it ignores that one of the most vulnerable segments of our population is still being exploited. The lopsided nature of policies targeting people that consume the media vs people who actually engage in abuse belies this."

(wangstramedeous | Ars Praetorian Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:55 pm )

Aug. 21 2013 07:50 AM

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