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Why 'Cyber Crime' Should Just Be Called 'Crime'

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the prefixes-that-have-worn-out-their-welcome dept.

Crime 368

netzar writes "CAUSE executive director Neil Schwartzman, in a post on CircleID, urges governments and law enforcement to treat cyber crime as what it really is: 'crime': 'When someone is mugged, harassed, kidnapped or raped on a sidewalk, we don't call it "sidewalk crime" and call for new laws to regulate sidewalks. It is crime, and those who commit crimes are subject to the full force of the law. For too long, people have referred to spam in dismissive terms: just hit delete, some say, or let the filters take care of it. Others — most of us, in fact — refer to phishing, which is the first step in theft of real money from real people and institutions, as "cyber crime." It's time for that to stop... This isn't just email. This isn't a war. This isn't "cyber." This is crime.'"

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368 comments

As soon as they ... (5, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106210)

Great idea. It will happen about the same time that "white collar crimes" are treated the same as mugging or burglary.

Re:As soon as they ... (5, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106230)

and while we're at it can we get rid of the "hate" category of crime too? Personally I'm not much interested in someone's motivations for committing a crime, only the results and their actual actions. I'll even compromise and agree to ratchet the levels of punishment UP to the "hate crime" level for everything.

Re:As soon as they ... (1, Troll)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106312)

Let's just do away with different degrees of murder and manslaughter too then. Since motive doesn't matter apparently. Accidentally kill a guy in a car accident? Just as bad as plotting and executing your ex wife since the result of their actual actions are the same. DERP.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106360)

Because, clearly, people murder other people while loving them.

If you want to call it something, call it "Racism Motivated Crime" or "Sexism Motivated Crime" or "Anti-Establishment Motivated Crime" or something like that.

Otherwise, it sounds like "hate" is something that happens when you're racist or sexist. Sure, hate happens then, but hate happens without racism, sexism, anti-academiaism, anti-establishmentism, etc. Hate can happen because you got in my way on the freeway.

(I'm not saying I hate people based on any of those things, just using myself as an example :))

Re:As soon as they ... (2, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106424)

Oh come on... you're nitpicking semantics. And love is not the opposite of hate anyway, apathy is. Which is what non- "racism motivated crime" et al. IS.

Normal murder the person killing has apathy for the life of the other person. It is in the way of them obtaining what they want. Burglary, contract killing, gang wars, revenge, etc.

HATE crime is committing the act not because you don't care who they are and they are an obstacle to your goal, but because THEY ARE THE GOAL.

Can you really not see that distinction?

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106470)

so what about crimes of passion, like a man killing his wife for cheating on him? SHE IS THE GOAL in that scenario as well, so should it be construed as hate crime?

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106508)

No, she isn't the goal. The goal is revenge... not to send a message to anyone but to satisfy his twisted perspective of justice, regardless of his state of mind at the time.

Re:As soon as they ... (5, Insightful)

stevie.f (1106777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106656)

Problem is, here (England) a hate crime is only when the race, religion, sexual orientation or disibility of the victim is a motivating factor.

This makes me uncomfortable, because it makes attacking someone outside of a mosque because you have a problem with their religion somehow worse than attacking someone outside a sci-fi convention because you have a problem with geeks.

In my mind this legitimises some kinds of hate. I'd be much happier if the whole hate crime thing was done away with, at least until someone figures out how to word it so that it's fairer and doesn't elevate only certain groups to having special 'victim' status'.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106438)

Not even a nice try there troll.

Manslaughter requires a lack of the intention to kill.

Re:As soon as they ... (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106466)

Come on, there is obviously a difference between intent to commit a crime and no intent. It is less easy to see a difference between murdering someone say to steal their money and murdering someone because they are homosexual.

Re:As soon as they ... (-1, Offtopic)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106482)

I'm blown away he's gotten (5, Insightful). This community is fucking dying if crap like this is thought of as insightful. It is shallow and petulant thinking.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106562)

It is shallow and petulant thinking.

By not trying to prove that, you scream your confession that you really meant "I don't agree with it". That is the ONLY possible meaning.

Re:As soon as they ... (0, Redundant)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106582)

Read the other threads under this parent instead of trolling here, please. I'm proving why I'm right without uncertainty.

Re:As soon as they ... (4, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106318)

Personally I'm not much interested in someone's motivations for committing a crime

So you don't care if someone's motivation for killing is self-defense?

I don't support hate crimes either, but intent is, and should be, very important in determining the punishment for an action.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106328)

Given your reasoned response I'd like to hear why you do not support hate crime legislation.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106390)

In my case, it's straightforward...if someone is assaulted, and it is by someone who is defending himself, that's acceptable. If someone is assaulted, but it's by someone who is robbing them, or who dislikes their color, or who is in a different gang, or...the list goes on. These are all assaults with the intention of harming someone who was not placing you or anyone else in immediate danger. At this point, WHICH of your criminal reasons caused you to commit the assault is something *I* don't really care about.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106442)

Coincidence of differing associations (race, gang, etc) is not the same as motive as you're describing though.

imo hate crime charges should ONLY be pursued when it is clear that the race, sex, etc was the motivating factor and not simply coincidental.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106652)

imo hate crime charges should ONLY be pursued when it is clear that the race, sex, etc was the motivating factor and not simply coincidental.

You are a moron. You're saying you don't support hate crime laws because they are misused, but would support them if they are used correctly? Part of getting a hate crime conviction is proving that the crime was motivated by hate; if this is being "proven" when it's not true blame shitty public defenders.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106500)

How do you assault someone in self-defense? You can defend yourself from assault, in which case the person assaulting you may suffer physical harm. It can be determined that the self-defense response was not appropriate (e.g. shooting someone who threw a wadded up piece of paper at you.) but someone cannot take defensive action until someone has taken offensive action or made it appear apparent that they were about to take offensive action.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106406)

So you don't care if someone's motivation for killing is self-defense?

Note that "killing" is not necessarily synonymous with "murder". Or with manslaughter.

In some places, if you kill someone in self-defense, you'll be charged with murder. And usually not convicted.

In other places, the police will take your statement, cart off the body, and that's the end of it.

Though in both cases above, a DA up for reelection who thinks that getting tough makes him more likely to win his next election can turn self-defense into murder on a whim.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

booyabazooka (833351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106692)

Personally I'm not much interested in someone's motivations for committing a crime

So you don't care if someone's motivation for killing is self-defense?

Is that a crime?

Re:As soon as they ... (4, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106322)

Liberal as I am, Hate Crime still makes me uneasy too. So does convicting someone of conspiring to commit a crime that never actually took place.

Re:As soon as they ... (4, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106448)

You're also ignoring the fact that hate crime has the intent of causing a chilling effect throughout a community IN ADDITION TO the direct harm caused to their target. It objectively causes more harm than normal non "hate" crime.

You're a fucking brainiac.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106566)

Hate crimes should be punished harsher than otherwise because it chills the neighbors!!! Or not.

Re:As soon as they ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106602)

ALL crime has a chilling effect in the area it happens.
A store gets robbed or a person gets shot, and you think they people are any less traumatized because it wasn't a "hate crime" ?!

"They just came in and started shooting, but thank god it was a hate crime!"
Now who's the fucking brainiac.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106630)

Not you, for sure.

The intent of other crime isn't the chilling effect though. So are you arguing intent doesn't matter and only the consequences of actions matter? Because I can eviscerate you on that topic if you want.

Or are you implying hate crime doesn't intend to create a chilling effect? I find it hard to believe you could be so stupid as to think that and simultaneously be capable of operating a computer.

Re:As soon as they ... (4, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106468)

I agree. i'm a little uneasy charging someone for what amounts to a thought crime, but if you smash a synagogue's window in, vandalize the place, and spray paint swastikas all over the place or you kill a transvestite and carve "FAG" into their chest, it's *very* clear, then let's call it what it is, terrorism.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106478)

The concept of 'hate' crime is bullshit to begin with.

Re:As soon as they ... (4, Insightful)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106550)

can we get rid of the "hate" category of crime too?

If a crime is not directed at only the actual victim but against a larger group of people, that intention -be it hate or the intention to intimidate- should be taken into account.

I might not agree with how the label "hate crime" is used all the time, but it acts as a form of terrorism against minorities and should be treated as such.

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106552)

Good god you all are a bunch of spoiled anglo whiners. This forum is dying a depressing death.

Do you have any idea what it is like to have someone attempt to place your entire community into a state of fear? No, because you're a bunch of honkey ignoramuses who never will be able to experience what it is like. So do you have empathy? No, you try to twist it around like you are the victims. You fucking disgust me.

Re:As soon as they ... (5, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106586)

The idea behind hate crime is that its twofold.

1)Kill your wife/parents/lover and there's a personal reason for killing that specific person. Kill for reason of skin color or religion and it's random-- anyone in that group is a possible next target. Due to this, the killer is more dangerous to the general population than a normal killer.

2)There was a time when white men who killed black men in the south were almost always let off, due to the prejudice of the juries. This allowed the whites to be held accountable in federal court for federal crimes, and circumvented a corrupt localized system of justice. Obviously not a good long term solution for this, but it was a necessary short term one.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

entotre (1929174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106268)

I for one hope they will keep the distinction between cyberwar and actual war.

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

thehostiles (1659283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106366)

but if you get drafted, you could fight from the comfort of an air conditioned office instead of from inside a tank

Re:As soon as they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106288)

Yeah, and maybe we can put politicians and cops who violate our rights into jail, as opposed to a slap on the wrist with pay...

Re:As soon as they ... (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106476)

Great idea. It will happen about the same time that "white collar crimes" are treated the same as mugging or burglary.

That is one perspective. Another perspective is that the 'cyber' is there to cast a pall on targeted industries that have the audacity to require technically competent individuals to bring technology to market.

In the process the industries are creating technologically empowered individuals, most of whom will be off-shored when their specialized services have produced the desired innovation, and their specialized knowledge has aged. The remainder are management.

The described situation == Future Terrorist Hotbed of America... just ask DHS ;)

So in this sense the 'cyber' has already Godwin'd the thread as it represents a boxcar.

In a slightly more open world, where private companies do not have to sue government agencies for skirting fair practice bidding, the influxes of experienced engineers would be a massive boon to the educational establishment, small businesses, incubator businesses, and even investment consulting. If the expectation was that you made the big leagues to build up a nest egg, then enjoyed smaller incomes while leveraging the experience and doing something satisfying we wouldn't have any problem at all.

Unfortunately, once you work on big time projects you become a member of the empowered 'cyber' actor club and and are subject to NDAs, No Competes, and possibly much worse if you were in a 'sensitive industry' (making stuff that works better than our enemies stuff so our own people can't have it because we don't want our enemy to have it).

This is a part of the mindset that I would love to see thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak. This type of thinking sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Get rid of the cyber now so that people in the affected industries can stop having to profess allegiance to a hat color; can stop experiencing fabricated stresses that are going to chafe down the road; and some can start having more interesting conversations with all these 'terrorists' that out there waiting to prey on us. No badge or national secrecy required.

Technically empowered people, whether hackers or 'engineers' are still humans, and most of those choose not to senselessly slaughter people. In fact you would have to abuse most people for years before they would get to that point.

Wait, what?

Is this post a crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106512)

Click here [dyndns.info] to find out

gray area? (1)

MasterGwaha (1033282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106214)

"sidewalk crime" has too much gray area. thats why we just call it crime. cyber crime though... well its specific too isnt it?

Re:gray area? (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106334)

What are you guys on about?

Street crime is a loose term for criminal offences taking place in public places. It has commonly been used for the term mugging around here.

There is a great distinction in Cyber Crime - like they mention phishing. If I had gone door to door pretending to be with your bank and requested any of your credit cards, you'd either be considered an idiot and/or I could be charged with some form of fraud. Fraud is it's own kind of Crime - it has it's own laws regarding it, why can't Cyber stuff be the same?

I get what you're trying to say, people don't seem to take "Cyber Crime" as serious as regular crime, but they are very different, in many ways, and segregation already exists in other forms of Law.

Re:gray area? (0, Flamebait)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106688)

If I had gone door to door pretending to be with your bank and requested any of your credit cards, you'd either be considered an idiot and/or I could be charged with some form of fraud.

In some places if you leave the keys in your car and it gets stolen you may be considered an accessory to the crime. It should be the same thing if your computer is not adequately protected.

Ignorance should be no excuse. If you are too lazy to learn how to use it properly, then you should not use a computer. People who let their computers become part of a criminal organization should be prosecuted as accessories.

Now if we can get people to stop (0, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106216)

saying IT.

I hear people actually say "I'm in IT." It's like saying "I work in roads" Are you a street cleaner? civil engineer? road painter? sell rock?

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106284)

Hi, my name is Tom, and I work in MT (matter technology). Oh, specifically? I operate a forklift.

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (2, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106304)

When you are truly in an IT job, you are all of them. After you're done fixing the plumbing that is.

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106432)

Completely depends on where you work. I have worn all the hats, and I have been in situation where my job is pretty specific. They don't want developers touching the database structure, or running cable.

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106488)

Man here we devs are sort of happy the 'electricians' stopped running the cables!

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106310)

"I work in roads" Are you a street cleaner? civil engineer? road painter? sell rock?

Actually, they're one of those little reflective bumps in the middle of the road.

Hey, that could explain why some stretches of road I have to drive on every night with no streetlights and no painted lines have most of their reflective bumps missing: they all went on strike!

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106378)

Yes, that.

I learnt a long time ago specifically not to mention that "I work with computers" because it inevitably leads to the "Oh really? I'm having a problem with my..."

When pressed, I just say "systems analyst", most people nod sagely and the conversation continues unimpeded, however I sometimes get the impression that I could say that I'm a "floob doppler" and have that carry equal meaning...

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106452)

I don't find that to be true at all. It's very rare someone asks me to fix their computer.

Re:Now if we can get people to stop (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106524)

You sir, are lucky.

Almost every time I go to a party primarily populated by non-techies it comes up, sometimes vicariously which is even worse ("oh this guy can help you out, he's a programmer"). In reality I don't mind talking about what I do, but I mind very much if I'm being tapped as a resource at a sociable gathering. So it has paid to just keep my big yap shut on that particular subject.

Why 'Cyber Crime' Should Just Be Called 'Crime' (4, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106218)

Because we're all fed up with the cyber-whatever headlines.

"Gun Crime", "Hate Crime" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106234)

The point is to identify a crime committed in a particular way as new kind of crime. Having a different category allows one to expand governmental powers, particularly in the form of regulatory agencies, beyond the bounds of what the public would normally accept for the unqualified crime.

Naive (5, Insightful)

loteck (533317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106238)

We call it cyber-crime because of the special skills and knowledge required to appropriately investigate and prosecute it. I really don't want a beat cop who makes arrests for street muggings responsible for investigating high-tech crime. Specially trained members of law enforcement will probably be required to enforce especially complex types of crime.

Also Naive (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106278)

Many modern criminal investigations require specialists. Rape, murder, arson, and so forth -- commonly investigated by specialists. Why should a crime that involves computers suddenly have a special category, when other forms of crime do not?

Re:Also Naive (1)

loteck (533317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106398)

Because cyber-crime doesn't refer to a mere specialized type of crime, but an entirely different paradigm. This new paradigm of crime not only requires completely new types of training and skill-building, it will require well-written and clear laws that don't yet exist if we're ever going to get out of the "wild west" in which we currently reside.

Giving it a label helps to identify it and differentiate it, which is probably beneficial.

Re:Also Naive (2, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106490)

Because cyber-crime doesn't refer to a mere specialized type of crime, but an entirely different paradigm. This new paradigm of crime not only requires completely new types of training and skill-building, it will require well-written and clear laws that don't yet exist if we're ever going to get out of the "wild west" in which we currently reside.

New laws? Ahhh - I see. You're part of the problem.

Re:Also Naive (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106634)

New laws? Ahhh - I see. You're part of the problem.

Huh?! Crime will always seek new avenues of least resistance. New technology creates new opportunities, and not just for consumers but for those with base motives. Once we figure out what we don't want to happen, we have to create laws against it.

If you don't have a law against it, it's not a crime. Spam didn't used to be a crime. At one time, hacking into a system connected to a public carrier (eg internet or modem) was not a crime since you didn't physically enter the premises; thus no B&E and no crime.

We have to create new, effective laws against new exploits against the public good. That's the way civilization responds to change.

Re:Also Naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106594)

How does fraud stop being fraud if it's done using a computer? It may require an investigator with an understanding of how fraud can be conducted using a computer, much like it would take knowledge when dealing with other forms of fraud, but that does not require a large collection of laws that differentiate every single form of fraud. Do we need a special law for fraud when it is perpetrated by someone dressed as Miss Piggy and conducted in a Wal-Mart parking lot?

Re:Also Naive (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106446)

Why should a crime that involves computers suddenly have a special category, when other forms of crime do not?

Yeah, Lord knows we don't want them adding new categories of crimes.

Next thing you know, we'll have "sex crimes" and "violent crimes" and "victimless crimes" and such nonsense....

Re:Also Naive (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106624)

Oh yeah? How about the Drugs squad, or "Internal affairs" for combating crime commited by cops. New branches of the law enforcement need to be established as society changes. Also we're fed up with Cyber-whathave you. You should treat it as crime but marely have specifically trained cops handle it

Re:Naive (1)

hellkyng (1920978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106364)

The point isn't that we need to call it cyber-crime to specify the type of researcher needed to investigate it. Its that it needs to be straight crime as far as the courts are concerned. "Cyber-Crime" isn't about nerdy kids sitting in basements anymore (basement dwellers other than slashdotters...), it is about sophisticated organized crime groups coordinating and working together to defraud people on large scales. When someone can steal millions of dollars and infect thousands of PCs and get off with probation it is completely unacceptable. It is extremely profitable to operate a botnet, or spam pillz, and it takes a lot of coordinated effort across multiple countries to put a stop to it. If the courts can't get over this differentiation between "cyber" crime and "real" crime it makes it pointless to prosecute these individuals. This is very nasty crime, perpetrated by very bad people, it needs to be treated as such. I am trying to find a link, but a security researcher had his daughter kidnapped for a number of years for looking into the wrong "cyber" criminals. She was only recently returned to him, after a number of years, having been through much badness. Treating cyber crime as an innocent outlet of nerdy teens is a big mistake.

Re:Naive (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106520)

but a security researcher had his daughter kidnapped for a number of years for looking into the wrong "cyber" criminals. She was only recently returned to him, after a number of years, having been through much badness.

I believe that the story you are referring to is this one [boingboing.net] which was mentioned in the book Fatal System Error [fserror.com] by Joseph Menn.

Re:Naive (1)

hellkyng (1920978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106542)

That is the one, good find! Scary stuff, when you are only researching/investigating/prosecuting "Cyber" crime...

But... but... (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106246)

What are our elected representatives going to do to convince us they deserve to keep being paid by our tax dollars if they can't make themselves look busy by making things illegaler?!?!

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106248)

Yeah, we don't call them sidewalk crime or whatever. But we do call them things like "violent" crime, "sex" crime, "white collar" crime, "hobo" crime, "punctuation" crime, etc. So what's wrong with "cyber" crime?

Ehm Declare war on Ghana ? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106250)

Sorry perhaps a to simple solution.

It gets me mad that i as kid did charity work to collect money for Africa, the result... they buy computers and see it as a national sport if they can get money from a blanc person by use of internet..

However options to ban countries would be a nice thing.

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106254)

cybercrime relates to things that can only take place as information. 1s and 0s dcan only do so much.

Call it what you want. It won't matter. (4, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106260)

Local cops generally don't care about contractual fraud unless you deliver a complete evidence package all tied up with a nice blue ribbon. They'll call it "civil" and blow you off.

Only big cases get any attention.

There is enough violence to keep the cops busy.

Re:Call it what you want. It won't matter. (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106388)

There is enough violence to keep the cops busy.

Don't forget all those damn kids and their "wacky baccy"!!!

Re:Call it what you want. It won't matter. (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106536)

It usually is civil. Contracts are rules that the parties to the contract have made up and agreed to be bound by. That means it's up to those parties to take them to court. The police generally have no duty nor authority to act in civil matters.

The police primarily exist to enforce criminal laws. If you like you can consider criminal laws to be rules that you and all of society are bound by. If you're in breach, society takes you to court - they just have a special department to handle it, called the police. The police have special powers but on the other hand there is (supposedly at least) an inherent assumption that you are innocent and must be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, unlike in civil cases where there is no assumption and verdict is on the balance.

Fraud can be complex in that it can be one or both of civil and criminal. I'm not a lawyer but my understanding is that fraud which is fundamentally theft is criminal while fraud that is more like cheating on a contract is civil. Additionally there may be duties for the police that is related to a civil matter, but this will be some incidental activity where there is actual or potential crime, and the police will only be interested in that incidental activity.

Car analogy (3, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106266)

So, it's like saying that we shouldn't call people being shot from a car a "drive-by shooting" or someone being run over by a car a "hit-and-run"?

Ack, this isn't working. BadAnalogyGuy, help me out here.

Re:Car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106356)

It's like saying "here is a cyberspace, and now it's up to you if you want to make crime." You're welcome.

Re:Car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106698)

Those could be either categorized as 'murder', 'attempted murder', 'manslaugther', or possibly 'attempted manslaughter'... all depending on if killing them was attempted or accidental, and whether they were killed or not.

Cyber (4, Funny)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106270)

Cyber sex is sex! You can really get pregnant, not just cyber pregnant.

Be sure to use a condom!

Re:Cybersex (1)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106418)

Cyber sex is sex! You can really get pregnant, not just cyber pregnant.

Be sure to use a condom!

Of course, this woman [failblog.org] got pregnant watching a porn film. No, really!!

Crime doesn't pay (2, Interesting)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106294)

But 'cyber crime' pays off in the form of increased profits, boosted ratings, legislation...

Boogiemen are big business, as /. knows too well...

In English, "x is foo crime" => "x is crime" (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106306)

Others — most of us, in fact — refer to phishing, which is the first step in theft of real money from real people and institutions, as "cyber crime." It's time for that to stop...This isn't just email. This isn't a war. This isn't "cyber." This is crime.

Should we also stop calling crime that affects property "property crime", and crime that involves violent acts "violent crime", and crime that involves criminal organizations "organized crime".

Because, you know, all that is crime, too. In fact, as with "cyber-crime", the fact that it is crime is why it has "crime" in its name. Adding a more specific adjective to a noun doesn't negate the basic meaning of a noun.

Ah, but there *is* "gun crime." (1, Troll)

timothy (36799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106332)

Billboards talk sternly about special penalties for "gun crime," and in the UK the phrase "knife crime" is common, too. (I've heard that one a few times in the U.S., but not often. But over there, there's http://www.knifecrimes.org/uk-knife-crime-victims.html [knifecrimes.org])

A distinction to be drawn, I think: there are pure category crime descriptions that people *don't* object to (I'm thinking of "white collar crime" / "violent crime"), but these seem different than "gun crime" or "knife crime" (no one talks about "car crime," despite the huge number of vehicular homicides, etc.), because these describe a crime according to its impact / immediate level of fear or risk, rather than on the instrumentalities used to perpetrate it. And I've never seen "gun crime" to mean "theft of lawfully owned guns," only "crimes committed with guns as instrumentality."

("White collar crime" is a nice sweeping term that includes embezzlement, some acts of bribery, strategic data destruction, etc - no one needs to call it "adding machine crime," or "degausser crime"; "violent crime" takes in rape, murder, etc, so no need for screwdriver crime, genitals crime, etc.)

On this basis, "cyber crime" actually has *some* justification, even though it's an annoying term; it seems a fair distinction based the context it which it takes place.

timothy

Re:Ah, but there *is* "gun crime." (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106554)

Billboards talk sternly about special penalties for "gun crime," and in the UK the phrase "knife crime" is common, too. (I've heard that one a few times in the U.S., but not often. But over there, there's http://www.knifecrimes.org/uk-knife-crime-victims.html [knifecrimes.org])

A distinction to be drawn, I think: there are pure category crime descriptions that people *don't* object to (I'm thinking of "white collar crime" / "violent crime"), but these seem different than "gun crime" or "knife crime" (no one talks about "car crime," despite the huge number of vehicular homicides, etc.), because these describe a crime according to its impact / immediate level of fear or risk, rather than on the instrumentalities used to perpetrate it.

It seems to me that the distinction is then political in nature. These labels are used to push agendas.

We do call it 'air rage' and 'bank robbery' though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106368)

Why call it 'Air Rage'? It's simply rage like any other!
Why call it 'Bank robbery'? We don't call it "Flower shop robbery"!

In other words: Little to see here.

Phishing / spam is a terrible example (3, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106392)

There is absolutely nothing illegal about me turning to the person next to me and asking them for their banking credentials. The only difference is that if I do it in real life, they will laugh at me. If I do it on the internet, I am more likely to succeed.

On another tangent here, the author misses the point. The real crime is that the banks make it too easy for someone other than the account holder to access the account. They make it too easy to get credit based on stolen credentials. The banks should demand token based authentication for online transactions. There are solutions that will send a one time PIN to a smart phone so a separate dongle isn't even necessary. The mechanisms for nearly bullet proof online commerce are available. The system is simply setup in a way that it is more affordable to write off fraud than it is to actively combat it.

Re:Phishing / spam is a terrible example (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106480)

You are more likely to succeed because when doing it online you can easily lie about who you are.
If you set up a fake BofA bank branch, you could get a lot of bank credentials.

Re:Phishing / spam is a terrible example (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106636)

That's a good point. The banks haven't secured the communications channel. Geeks know that email isn't secure, but John Q Public still needs to learn the lesson. Whenever my bank sends me an email, it is little more than a notice that there is a message waiting for me. I have to access my online account to read the message. That creates a problem though, because it conditions the response to expect email communications from the bank.

What is the angle of the banks? They want to get away from having to send out regular mail because sending physical paper through the mail is an expense. There are probably regulatory requirements that demand customers be notified when certain events take place. The banks want/have to notify the customers but don't want the expense of sending mail to them, so they turn to email.

The only way around it that I can see is to require two factor authentication. People already receive an ATM card and a PIN number when they open an account. If they want access to online banking, they should get a dongle and/or smart phone app.

Re:Phishing / spam is a terrible example (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106502)

There is absolutely nothing illegal about me turning to the person next to me and asking them for their banking credentials.

If you claim that you are from his bank, I think it is.

Polls closing: BIYOTCH SLAPPING!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106404)

BWAAA HAAA HAAA HAAA

I'm laughing my ass off at the train wreck that's going to be the final two years of Hopenchange!!!!

don't tell me what to call anything, moron. (0, Redundant)

MichaelKristopeit121 (1933108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106420)

should all the laws pertaining to "violent crime" also be dismissed as an irrelevant categorization?

article author is ignorant.

If you ignore the hard parts, the problem is easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106430)

Easy to say, hard to do. The Cuckoo's Egg, by Cliff Stoll, does a great job of showing why this is hard--while the technology may have changed, the jurisdictional problems certainly haven't.

The author of the article practically ignores these difficulties, glibly saying "So what? Crimes have crossed borders before." That's the functional equivalent of saying "I solved world hunger! We just have to grow and distribute food more efficiently!" While the suggestion is true, it's also essentially useless, since you can't do anything with it. Turns out it's pretty hard to coordinate investigations across national borders, which is why spammers intentionally cross borders.

Saying we need to treat cyber crime like any other crime doesn't deal with the problems that are not like other crime. Before email and electronic banking, if I wanted to rob a bank, I had to be physically near the bank. Now I can do it from the safety of outer mongolia, and have my money in a Caymen Islands account before the bank even realizes it has been robbed.

silly language debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34106458)

"Cyber crime" isn't the most attractive name, but you need a word to distinguish that from street crime, if only because a completely different skill set is required of the investigators and law enforcement.

some laws have a poor fit in the cyber world and (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106486)

some laws have a poor fit in the cyber world and need to be reworked for them to work in the cyber world as the cyber world is not the same as the Street.

euphemism? (1)

ruseweek (1923416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106518)

I think the implication here is that "cyber crime" is a euphemism. For me, the descriptor doesn't negate anything about the crime. I would be more sympathetic to the argument if the term didn't contain 'crime', as in "cyber abuse" or something of the sort. Or if 'cyber' implied 'virtual', like some type of simulated crime.

Of the mind... (1)

sitarlo (792966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106530)

I think the word "cyber" loosely translates to "mind" which would make cyber-crime = mindcrime. Geoff Tate's lyrics have a whole new meaning to me now!

Seriously... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106534)

If you can't point to a physical object (like cash) that was physically taken, then nobody has any right complaining. There is no "crime" because crime exists only in a physical space.

Right?

I keep hearing that justification. Someone is foolish and loses control of their bank account password. Someone else comes along and makes use of this information. The bank, having no idea who is defrauding whom, assumes their customer must be trying to pull a fast one and just tells them that it is too bad, they lost.

Because of course the alternative is that I will just run down to my bank and tell them someone broke into my account and stole that $10,000 that seems to be missing. Who knows? Maybe they will replace it. Unlikely, from where I am sitting but who knows?

Anyway, the idea that you can lose something important in a non-physical space really hasn't sunk in to everyone yet. Or even most people on the planet. So why is it a crime to steal money from someone on the street but not when you steal money from them online? Part of the problem is that the victim has to be complicit in the act of losing their money online in most cases. That immediately wipes out most law enforcement respect. It is like a naked woman being raped in a bar. If she is still naked when the cops arrive the chances of anyone being charged with rape is about zero.

As far as non-money crimes actually being crimes isn't this the site where unauthorized copyright infringement is routinely treated as a non-problem? Why do you think anyone else is going to respect your problems online? This is again a basic disconnect that a lot of people (the majority today) have with things that happen online vs. physical space.

How we got here (2, Interesting)

selil (774924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106596)

In the 1970s a court case in California during an evidence hearing had an interesting discussion. The evidence of an intellectual property case was bounced as the evidence was all digital in nature. How can you have a theft when you still possess the original? Several avenues were considered and the result were the first computer laws detailing crimes that happened on computers versus normal property thefts. Much abridged version, but this is basically a United States issue that isn't necessarily found in other countries as their property rights are considered differently. Though, the United States has managed to export many of the concerns along with the Internet. Much of this is detailed by Thomas Whiteside in a book called "Computer Capers" circa 1978,

Remember Dmitri Sklarov! (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106628)

These arguments against separating internet crimes are rife with logical fallacies, so many that I don't have the energy to get into it all.

Let me remind everybody that the whole idea of persecuting someone for crimes using computer data as evidence is a relatively new development.

New, mostly because computers haven't been around forever, even if they've been around *your* whole lifetime.

New, as well, because people forget that laws shouldn't be molded because it'd be aW3s0m3 to have them read or act a certain way, they should be molded to make the most common sense and protect the most rights while not sacrificing any other rights in the process.

Let me give you an example, which I love to bring up again, and again, and again, because it's SO perfect, of just what happens when people get carried away thinking their nerdish, little virual realities should bear more weight in big, real, grown-ups world. In the much-hated Martha Stewart's famous trial that every middle-to-lower income person in the country was bloodthirsty for, computer evidence was used to find her guilty. Computer evidence, mind you, that didn't exist, though there was a handy excuse: the testimony of one of Stewart's computer workers explained that there was at one time incriminating evidence on the computer (some memos or something) that Martha ordered him to delete, and that she then ordered him to delete the logs of his evil, dishonest, nerdly work so nobody would know he'd done what he'd done. Then, presumably, he deleted the logs of those deletions, as well, and so on. Point is, the testimony stood. The nonexistent logs and memos and everything actually were admitted as evidence to the jury. So was the testimony of the investigator who filed the original charges, even though he later was found guilty of perjury for said testimony.

The point is, nobody in America should be tried on any digital evidence, whatsoever. Everybody who knows enough about technology knows this. Despite what you and your friends might tell each other, every day fewer and fewer people know jack shit about technology and what it's capable of. Usually at this point everybody is thinking: "child porn". Whether that's because you laugh every day at Pedo Bear and other joke sites that put the subject lightly, or because you're really concerned about it, only the internet knows. But just recently it was shown that all you have to do is claim that somebody else put your porn on your computer and get them in trouble, instead. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/08/06/150216 [slashdot.org]

The point is that it's a very, very, very, very slippery slope, indeed (and this isn't your classic slippery slope argument) when you start mucking around with using computer data as evidence. The last thing you want to do is give it MORE presumable tangibility in court. It's perfectly FINE that computer crimes are in a separate class, that way you can ensure that the evidence is treated as categorically weaker than the typical evidence, supporting lesser verdicts.

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