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.