March 6, 2019

The Virtual Hunting Ground: Cybercrime and the Law

The Virtual Hunting Ground: Cybercrime and the Law


Advancement in technology and the Internet have taken crimes into a whole new virtual level. With a totally different world existing online, crimes have been easier to commit with just a single click. In this digital age, the term cybercrime has been coined. Despite initiatives such as digital consumer awareness and countermeasures to lessen its negative effects, cybercrimes continue to climb on a yearly basis. Criminals are looking for smarter ways to get their way around the Internet, programming disruptive viruses, stealing intellectual property, accessing private information, and even shutting down corporate computer systems.


The US Department of Justice has classified cyber crime in three categories, which may involve both hardware and software. Cybercrime can take place in the computer, which can make the theft of data or viruses possible. Cybercriminals may also just use computers as weapons of crime, using software to commit traditional crimes. Computers can also act as legal accessories, storing incriminating information.


The cost of cybercrime is not one to be ignored. A major security service, Symantec, lists a cost of $114 billion annually for direct crimes, while cyber crimes account for a soaring $274 billion every year. What’s more is that brilliant computer skills are becoming more unnecessary in the conduct of such crimes. Criminals—and even children—can now download and use hacking tools much easily. In fact, mobile cyber crimes affect 80% of men between the ages of 18 and 31. Meanwhile, about 14 adults become cybercrime victims every second.


Common Types of Cybercrime


Computer Fraud. This includes stealing, changing and deleting computer information which is disruptive, and only results to personal gain. An alteration of computer codes for illegal purposes and misuse of software also qualify as fraud.


Harassment and Cyberbullying. Directing comments on people about their race, physical appearance, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation resulting to emotional downsides and shaming can be considered harassment or cyberbullying.


Identity Theft. Stealing personal information to apply for credit, jobs or get unauthorized access are considered identity theft. Phishing scams pretending to be banks, utility companies or potential employers use the Internet to ask for personal information.


Drug Trafficking. Drug dealings have become more efficient and faster with the use of mobile phones and encrypted emails. Whereas, buyers have tighter anonymity when buying drugs instead of facing dangerous criminal scenarios on the streets.


Cybercrime Legislation


There are currently 22 laws for crimes committed online as included in the United States Constitution. Subsection 1028 deals with fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features and information. The punishment for crimes committed under this attempt can result to up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine. Section 1466A also deals with the obscene visual representation of the sexual abuse of children, resulting to not less than 15 years and up to 30 years of imprisonment. Whereas, criminal infringement of a copyright is stipulated in subsection 2319, which can entail a fine and imprisonment of 5 years. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was also stipulated to prohibit persons to engage in an unlawful gambling business which—when violated could result to 5 years imprisonment. Other cybercrime laws pertain to misleading words or digital images on the Internet, misleading domain names, certain activities relating to child pornography, and transportation of obscene matters for sale or distribution.


Despite the increase of initiatives to fight off cybercrime, the increase of its occurrence in recent years cannot be denied. The Internet has become an unexplored world every single day, with dark corners lurking with online predators. It is best, then, for everyone to exercise extra caution and not become an easy prey.

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