from the scary-scary-internet dept
It is a standing modern truth that you can take a scary word in the English language and turbocharge its terror factor by putting the word "cyber" in front of it. Don't believe me? Murder. Some guy stabs or shoots me. Cyber-murder. Holy crap! A dude can reach through the computer and electrocute my face! The problem, as we've discussed previously, is that many of the supposed facts used to hype cybercrime are massively overstated, and the unfortunately resulting hysteria breeds atrocities like The Patriot Act, because computers are terrifying and apparently the government is not. Of course, it doesn't end with crime. Cyberwar, cyber-terrorism, these words now permeate the bloodstream like terrifying nanobots, all while the use of technology and the internet marches forward at incredible rates.
But is the term "cybercrime" even useful anymore? When NYC district attorneys like Manhattan's Cyrus Vance suggest that pretty much all crime includes a cyber element, can't we just drop the scare words and go back to calling it "crime?"
According to Vance, cybercrime isn't just a growing trend—it's a fundamental shift in the way modern crime works. It has already reached a point where nearly every crime in the city involves a cyber component.It seems to me that just because there is a small element in a murder that involves a computer, that doesn't make it cybercrime, but that's apparently how it's being reported at the DA's office. This, of course, allows federal agencies like DHS and the CIA to get involved, where they, otherwise, would not.
"It is rare that a case does not involve some kind of cyber or computer element that we prosecute in our office—whether it is homicide, whether it's a financial crime case, whether it's a gang case where the gang members are posting on Facebook where they're going to meet," said Vance.
The city is getting help from the Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, local businesses, and others. This system of cooperation was actually set up in 2001 when President George W. Bush signed the PATRIOT Act into law. It established the Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) under the Secret Service. According to the Secret Service website, "The concept of the ECTF network is to bring together not only federal, state and local law enforcement, but also prosecutors, private industry and academia."I wouldn't want to necessarily suggest that having the alphabet agencies get involved at some level is always going to be a bad thing, but perhaps it is time we all had a conversation about how we, as citizens, want to be policed in America. That question is going to dovetail into whether or not we want scare-words like "cyber" to result in law enforcement evolving away from the local level to the federal level. For a country that bangs the "get government out of our lives" drum so frequently, often from the party that spawned The PATRIOT Act no less, we seem quite willing to let irrational fear dominate us.