Everyone Freak Out! Gangs Have Discovered The Internet!

from the technology-can-do-what? dept

Zauber Paracelsus points us to a Kotaku report of the National Gang Intelligence Center’s National Gang Threat Assessment for 2011. Kotaku specifically takes the report to task for its inclusion of Second Life as a tool used by gangs to communicate and recruit. While that in and of itself is pretty funny, the whole section on technology is worth a read for the “what the crap?” moments.

In the key findings of the report (PDF and Embedded Below) the NGIC lays out its primary concern over the technology used by gangs:

Gangs are becoming increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, employing new and advanced technology to facilitate criminal activity discreetly, enhance their criminal operations and connect with other gang members, criminal organizations, and potential recruits nationwide and even worldwide.

Basically, the concern is that the internet has allowed gangs to move outside neighborhoods and cities and spread their influence throughout the world. That can be a concern for law enforcement, but do we really need to worry this much about it?

Gang members routinely utilize the Internet to communicate with one another, recruit, promote their gang, intimidate rivals and police, conduct gang business, showcase illegal exploits, and facilitate criminal activity… Social networking, microblogging, and video-sharing websites – such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter – are now more accessible, versatile, and allow tens of thousands of gang members to easily communicate, recruit and form new gang alliances nationwide and world wide.

So here the NGIC lays out some more specific concerns over the use of social networking. Yet, aside from the criminal activity portions of this complaint, the same could be said of any group that is trying to spread its message. Take for instance the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. It started in New York and has now spread throughout the US primarily by the use of the same social network sites listed as used by gangs. Looking further back at the Spring Uprising in the Middle East and Africa, they too used social networking to build their protests. It should really come to no surprise to anyone that the same tools used by peaceful groups would also be employed by gangs and other violent groups.

Luckily, the report does not go as far as suggesting any kind action plan on just what to do about this technology employed by gangs. Based on recent actions in the US, such as that taken by BART, we would probably see more calls for removing anonymity, expanded monitoring capabilities and the ability to shut off such services if they are used by gangs and their members. Much like the attempts to thwart piracy through legislation such as SOPA/PROTECT-IP, such a move will not stop any law breaking group or person from doing what they do. Such a move will only harm the law abiding citizens and groups that rely on such tools for communication. This is a lesson that many people in the government continue to fail to learn.

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Comments on “Everyone Freak Out! Gangs Have Discovered The Internet!”

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28 Comments
TasMot (profile) says:

No, NO, we can use this to expand

After we shut down Facebook, Twitter and all those other rogue sites, we can go after the companies that make kitchen knives, matches, of course get those gasoline makers, the ones that make cars should be on the list (how can you commit a crime with no get-away car), and masks, let’s shut down the mask makers too and really those criminals are using shoes( NO MORE SHOES, NO MORE SHOES), and for all that is good, please shut down all of the phones, then none of those criminals could talk to each other. We should be able to get a lot of moral panic going around all of these companies that make accessories to crimes. It doesn’t matter if anybody uses those for legal things too, just shut them down and stop crime. DO IT NOW!

Dan J. (profile) says:

What?

You mean a tool who’s primary purpose is to allow people to communicate is being used to communicate?

Psst, I hear gangs have also discovered cars, which allow them to broaden their range considerably; GPS units, which allow them to easily find locations to terrorize; and hotels, which allows them to range further afield from their home territories.

TasMot (profile) says:

No, NO, we can use this to expand

After we shut down Facebook, Twitter and all those other rogue sites, we can go after the companies that make kitchen knives, matches, of course get those gasoline makers, the ones that make cars should be on the list (how can you commit a crime with no get-away car), and masks, let’s shut down the mask makers too and really those criminals are using shoes( NO MORE SHOES, NO MORE SHOES), and for all that is good, please shut down all of the phones, then none of those criminals could talk to each other. We should be able to get a lot of moral panic going around all of these companies that make accessories to crimes. It doesn’t matter if anybody uses those for legal things too, just shut them down and stop crime. DO IT NOW!

gorehound (profile) says:

SOPA/PROTECT-IP came first and took away our rights to a life without censorship
next comes removing anonymity & expanded monitoring because of the gangs and we must protect the children
and then comes the real Orwell 1984

and it all happens little by little by little.
and the mainstream people do not realize it nor do they care until it is there and then they all look at each other and cry “How did this happen ?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Making a law against such behavior will not do anything except demonstrate just how badly the lawmakers don’t understand what they are trying to make rules over.

Through use of code words, implied rather than actually said, and sly use, it will merely make it more difficult to follow and keep track of.

In China during the Jasmine protest, China blocked the words Jasmine, protest, and most of the words that would have lead to the messages they didn’t want seen. The protesters changed the keyword to be Love. You saw that word, it was a clue here was someone that supported the protest. But blocking and filtering had no effect whatever in preventing communications short of the clueless. Laws aimed at trying to prevent free speech will result in work-a-rounds.

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