Monday, 21 July 2008

Fraud & social networking

Nor surprisingly, people still fall for Nigerian Scams, not aware that the new forms they take, using social netwoking tools, do not conceal the fact they remain scams. "Nigerian 419 Advance Fee Scammers Move To... LinkedIn?" (4 June 2008)

whether fake profiles on facebook are illegal depends on the offences looked at. Defamation/libel could be constituted providing the contents fit the description of libel and are not merely a joke. they could also be an instrument to fraud if they help attracting potential victims to depart with money "Is A Fake Facebook Profile Illegal?" (5th June 2008)

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Recurring behaviours: fraud?

An interesting case for a lawyer.. Does taking a few pennies (legally each time) constitute fraud? The answer is yes if there is a scheme to defraud. This is a typical case of an offence by habit: the isolated behaviour is not in itself illegal (it can be, like practising medecine illegally, but the offence often is punishable only after the behaviour has been repeated twice); its repetition makes it illegal because a pattern emerges and an intention to behave illegally appears. In this, case, to use the possibility to take legally one penny numerous time to obtain money (plus under false identities) clearly is fraud. "Is It Fraud If You Collect One Penny Legally Over And Over Again?" (28 May 2008)

Web2& Social networking: helping police?

OK, I can't find the post about it; so here we are. "City Council Tells 'Dumbest Criminal' To Stop Posting So Much Evidence To YouTube" - Leeds city council seems to be also dumb? (22 May 2008)

But a more direct move from a social networking site is not funny at all: people have been banned because of their age (over 36) for fear of porn and sex abuse. Apart from the ridicule of the situation (how on earth all over 36 can be suspected?), it is a pretty dangerous move: it's called private justice for fear of prosecution. "Social Networking Site Bans Anyone Over Age 36 To (Sorta) Deal With Sex Offender Law" (23 May 2008)

Hate crime and terrorism

The new trend, at least in the US, is to tackle hate crime via terrorism, by redifining some discourses as terrorist, instead of hate. The assimilation is dangerous for what is terrorism one day can become legal the next, and what is labelled terrorism does not necessarily promote hatred although it often does so. "Senator Lieberman Tries Hunting Down Terrorist Videos On YouTube" (20 May 2008)

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Fraud: new trend or beyond credit card data

See "Forget Credit Cards, Scammers Now Want Your VoIP Accounts?" (15 May 2008)

although the old way remains profitable "Stark warning as UK faces cybercrime boom",1000000189,39431415,00.htm?r=1 (9 june 2008)

Investigation and security

Not sure I agree entirely with the comments below. That police forces have USB keys to enter Microsof products' security features does not necessarily mean that criminals will jump on the loopholes. To take an analogy, for police officers to wiretap never meant that criminals had eavedropped more... A shield can always become a sword in the wrong hands, but it does not mean it should not exist. (29 April 2008)

Cybercrime and the EU

The COuncil of Europe created the Convention of Cybercrime. Time for the EU, despite the drawback about the treaty of Lisbon, to look at cybercrime a bit more seriously than it has done so up to now.
A study is expected: (2 May 2008)

and the Commission recently took a Framework Decision about cyber attacks in order to clarify legal issues to facilitate responses to crime (14 July 2008)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Cyber-Investigations and human rights

To monitor the internet to detect (and deter?) crime seems a good idea at first sight. Yet objections are many:

  • practical objection: is it realistic to consider being able to control the internet? It's like wanting to monitor the mail correspondance of users throughout the world. Can we imagine the FBI or Europol controlling data held by post offices? Inachievable and therefore a pretence. I don't see how the physical world of letters could be much different from the cyberworld.
  • second practical objection: how on earth can you succesfully detect crime when faced with a mass of information? the old fashioned way of doing detective work (on the web understandibly) is a much more efficient than trying to cast a net so vast it would take centuries to find the problematic fish.
  • theoritical objection: again, parallels with the so-called physical world enlighten thoughts. Data "held" by post offices are private even when their contents are terrorist or criminal; why should data on the web not considered as private and thus submitted to the same regulations as for obtaining private correspondance? Where are the human rights?

And yet the FBI seriously considers asking the ISPs retention of data (23rd April 2008)

as well as Russia's authorities who would even go further by blocking traffic like China does (24th April 2008)

Similar problem with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (so federal law) agreed to let searches of laptop with no specific purposes that looking in the hard drive. Why should we set up conditions for the search of a house, but not the search of a computer when nowadays the computer is like a portable home with sometimes all the documents one needs? Where are the human rights of the accused here? Gone with the wind of fear of crime...

"Is This The Best Homeland Security Can Do In Defending Laptop Searches At The Border?" (TechDirt, 10 July 2008) (23rd April 2008) with an update for the Electronic Frontier Foundation asks for Congress to intervene (1 May 2008)

Social networking, privacy and investigations

For once, I can stop criticising social networking. Manchester Police force uses Facebook in an innovative way, to promote communication and gather information about crime;
I wonder how effective it is and if privacy, which is the biggest problem on social networking, can be maintained. I would be curious to see the results of any study made on this matter. (21st April 2008)

As an illustration of privacy issues, see this acknowledgment by Facebook that spammers' attacks increased, notably because the users' contact details such as e-mail adresses are available even if the users have not opted for such "transparency". "Facebook admits to increased attacks by spammers",1000000189,39397448,00.htm (22 April 2008)

And this is without counting on the fact that users often do not realise Facebook is about publicity not keeping details private. See this story about a US military who published photographs of his base!! (23rd April 2008) or those Oxford students the University disciplined after scrolling Facebook postings (6 May 2008)

So it's not surprising that the University of Wales launches academic studies of the social networking phenomenon in relation to cyber security (9 May 2008)

Yet the reaction from N-Y to punish those incriminating themselves on YouTube (I agree, it's not social networking in the proper sense- but its audience makes it similar to social networking) is quite surprising . How can such crime deter people to put videos of illegal activities? What is the purpose of such potential legislation? "New York Wants To Punish Criminals For Incriminating Selves On YouTube" (13 May 2008)