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From ILOVEYOU to arrests in cyberspace

By ZamZ in News
Mon May 15, 2000 at 10:21:20 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

With a sense of timing that would make a conspiracy theorists head spin the G8 (Group of 8 Nations) are meeting to discuss the 'rising tide of cyber-crime'. Covered in a BBC news article that talks of an international cyber police force being formed, the basis for a new set of monitoring and regulation is being laid out.

Its an ideal time. With the paranoia that the media whipped up following the ILOVEYOU attack the average user is ready to be protected. A little loss of privacy and the removal of democratic rights to elect law makers seems a small price to pay to keep your MP3 and JPG files intact.

Why a 'removal of democratic rights'? The G8 may spring partly from elected governments but as a body we have little control over it. The idea of a global police force to tackle crime on a global network might seem only sensible at first, but such a force can only ever be quasi-democratic. For a start, the G8, as its name implies, represents only the 8 most powerful countries in the world. Excersising control over this body even for the peoples of these 8 countries, is nigh on impossible. The group takes its lead from the political interests of its most powerful members and does so outside of our normal democratic bodies - no congressmen or members of parliament meet here. Add to this the lack of precendents for evidence gathering in computer crime and the need to 'identify and track computer criminals' (read 'anyone connected to the net') and you have the starts of enforced monitoring and net-nannying placed in the hands of the most powerful states on the planet.

The evidence of the will to get involved in other countries laws was brought out with the ILOVEYOU incident, where the US law agencies had the arrest of another nations 'criminal' announced to the media before the local law authorities were even sure one of their laws had been broken.

The true nature of this whole shebang can be summed up with a quote from the French Foreign Ministry in the article, relating how 'offences ranging from credit card fraud to spreading child pornography' are 'growing exponentially'. There seems little actual evidence to suggest this. ILOVEYOU was one script that got out of control and the number of cracks of sites is hardly becoming a snow-storm. What has been growing exponentially are the number of ordinary internet users who want to communicate with each other and the fears of governments about what they might choose to say.

We need better software to help protect systems from attacks. We don't need our every move on the internet monitored by G8 security forces and our choices of what we can say limited by what those forces perceive to be criminal activity.


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From ILOVEYOU to arrests in cyberspace | 16 comments (16 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Hear, here. Let's dump the whole U... (2.50 / 2) (#4)
by warpeightbot on Mon May 15, 2000 at 08:53:08 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

Hear, here. Let's dump the whole U.N. while we're at it, which will rid us of the DMCA and a few other "wholesome" things.....

I like everything about this story ... (none / 0) (#3)
by End on Mon May 15, 2000 at 08:55:37 PM EST

End voted 0 on this story.

I like everything about this story except the title. I'm tired of that virus blowup. Why does every interesting bit of real news have to be artificially related back to the Current Big Default News Story?


This sounded more like a poor diatr... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by duxup on Mon May 15, 2000 at 09:04:44 PM EST

duxup voted -1 on this story.

This sounded more like a poor diatribe about privacy rather than something for discussion. There are little to no actual facts backing it up. I'm not saying privacy is not an issue, but an "article" about how privacy should not be protected with a link to one short story about a G8 conference about inet security doesn't back up this rant. The proposed solution is "better software" is just too vague. Some more articles and details about the G8's conference would help immensely. ------ (joke) This post sponsored by: Better Software Company Keeping the G8 out of your life.

Excellent writeup. This "internati... (4.00 / 2) (#2)
by mattc on Mon May 15, 2000 at 09:29:18 PM EST

mattc voted 1 on this story.

Excellent writeup. This "international cyber police" idea has many parallels with the WTO -- another undemocratic organization. Like the WTO, this organization could push around small governments and screw over citizens. If you think the US hunting down a DeCSS programmer in Norway is bad, just wait until the "international cyber policeman" comes into the picture.

I certainly am not opposed to combating computer crime, but this is the wrong way to do it. An organization that doesn't have to (directly) answer to the people is a recipe for rights-violation (the CIA is a good example).

A better solution would be to simply not use Microsoft products if you want to avoid buggy software :-) And when someone does write a destructive program, let their own people handle it using their own country's laws.

It would be nice to hear some tips ... (none / 0) (#7)
by genehack on Mon May 15, 2000 at 09:29:30 PM EST

genehack voted 1 on this story.

It would be nice to hear some tips or ideas from people about things to do now to plan for potential changes like this in the future.

(Moving to Montana to live in a shack doesn't count.)

Sometimes I think speaking Navaho a... (2.00 / 3) (#5)
by deimos on Mon May 15, 2000 at 10:05:08 PM EST

deimos voted 1 on this story.

Sometimes I think speaking Navaho across smoke signals is the safest way to go.
irc.kuro5hin.org: Good Monkeys, Great Typewriters.

Actually, I think this has to do mo... (4.00 / 2) (#1)
by Inoshiro on Mon May 15, 2000 at 10:13:55 PM EST

Inoshiro voted 1 on this story.

Actually, I think this has to do more with visibility. Not many lusers understand remotely the consequences of their actions, and with a bunch of them networked the "stupidity snowball" is something to be reckoned with.

Back in the 1980s, no one commented on anything much when the Morris Worm went and managed to litterly slow down the internet backbone. Why? "This internet stuff involves computers and junk, I don't understand it."

The difference is that now a lot more people who don't understand computers are using them. They (unskilled computer users) make up a much larger percentage of voters in the G8 countries than they did before. The "ILOVEYOU" situation scared them because it exposed their lack of knowledge about this, and it spread at "digital speeds" :-)

Thanks to our "24-hours a day, 7-days a week, never-ever sleeps" news, we get the feedback of this fast spreading at a fairly rapid speed, and have it blown all out of proportion (because of the slow news day). While youth violent crime has dereased over the past 10 years, things like Columbine, etc, have increased its perception (thanks to the news). The perception of this as a problem was also due to the news, and that lead to the G8 doing something. Blame the lusers, blame the news, and blame lack of education -- for with education, these people would never have double-clicked something that was "application/octec-stream" in the first place.

[ イノシロ ]
Re: Actually, I think this has to do mo... (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 16, 2000 at 05:36:50 AM EST

The "ILOVEYOU" situation scared them because it exposed their lack of knowledge about this, and it spread at "digital speeds".

My own experience confirms everything that you have said on the matter. The public seems to be in a state of denial - they just don't want to admit how incredibly ignorant that they are on the subject. Basically, they don't want to admit that they have lavished their time, effort and money on systems that weren't worth the effort. At some level, they are aware of this, but rather than facing it, they are looking for a scape-goat.

As a point in case, I was discussing the whole idiotic 'ILoveYou' fiasco with several people last week in an attempt to help them understand exactly how it worked. When I admitted to several of them that I have actually downloaded and examined the plain text version of the thing, their expressed outrage was nothing short of hysterical. And yes, some of them obviously now think that I'm some kind of "Satanic Hax0r" who is hell bent on starting WWIII. The possibility that someone could have a non-malicious interest in the subject is totally alien to their mindset.

In a really black kind of way, it's actually quite funny and I can't help but wondering just what kind of heights the publics hysteria would reach if they were to realise that things like 'Melissa' and 'ILoveYou' are actually the least of their security problems.

The fundemental problem is that you have a choice between a number of mutually exclusive options.

User friendly, reliable and secure - pick at most two. You can't have all three.

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.

[ Parent ]

Re: Actually, I think this has to do mo... (none / 0) (#15)
by mattc on Tue May 16, 2000 at 08:16:45 PM EST

User friendly, reliable and secure - pick at most two. You can't have all three.

Security may seem like a sacrifice to "user friendliness" in the short term, but in the long term (like when a virus is spreading), users will be happier with the secure system.

[ Parent ]

Re: Actually, I think this has to do mo... (none / 0) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 17, 2000 at 10:00:39 AM EST

User friendly, reliable and secure - pick at most two. You can't have all three.

Not to be pedantic, but can we say "Ease of use, reliable and secure" instead? As a UI nut, I hold that a system could be user-friendly, as well as being reliable and secure. However, if the system's designed to interact with casual users, then I fully agree that you're going to have problems.

- Ken

[ Parent ]
What's their angle? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by Toojays on Tue May 16, 2000 at 12:09:32 AM EST

Does anyone know what they could actually be planning to do? It sounds like they just want to standardise laws so that the blame for ILOVEYOU and others can be clearly placed on the authors of the virus and not the authors of the underlying infrastructure (i.e. Microsoft). It would simplify things a lot (no need for a class action lawsuit) if the $X billion dollars in damage can be attributed to a "cyberterrorist".

I don't think this really has anything to do with child porn or credit card fraud, if those things are illegal then whether or not you use a computer to do it should be irrelevant.

This isn't a good thing (4.70 / 3) (#9)
by Perpetual Newbie on Tue May 16, 2000 at 01:48:51 AM EST

I believe that just about any computer crime can be prosecuted using existing local crime laws. Computer tresspassing is an equivalent to trespassing. Computer vandalism is equivalent to vandalism. Turning off someone's life support with a computer is equivalent to murder, first degree. Destruction of data is vandalism, the cost of which is the cost of replacing the lost data. Port scanning is walking up to a store and seeing if the sign says "Open" or "Sorry, we're closed". However, lawmakers are not nearly as lenient as I would be. Computer crime laws, at least here in the States, tend to be highly overreactionary and more geared towards punishment than discouragement.

Right now a "get tough on crime" mentality rules the States. One tactic that prosecutors like to use is to press multiple charges against a defendant for a single crime. The way they do this is to call the single crime several different names. Walk down the street and randomly shoot somebody and you'll get aggravated assualt, assualt with a deadly weapon, assualt with intent to cause bodily harm, use of a firearm in commission of a crime, and a bevy of other charges on top of the murder charge. The intent of this is to lock someone up for the longest time possible, longer than a reasonable application of the law provides, and since we've got a lot of crazy people over here the public has no problem with this. It is assumed that because of our high crime rates, jail sentences under the law are not long enough, and new crime laws generally allow for extremely long sentences. Anyone against this line of thinking or proposing preventative measures is assumed to be in favour of more crime, and doesn't get elected.

The text of some of the computer crime laws I've seen seems written in this vein of thought, intended to put computer crooks in jail for the longest time possible. Such things as ten years in prison for defacing a web page, and five years in prison for using encryption in the commission of a crime, are found in the bills being discussed in Congress. I do not think that these are anywhere near reasonable punishments.

Where this international meeting makes things sticky is in Article 6 of the Constitution, a section of which reads: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding". What this means is that international treaties trump the Constitution. If any treaty to come out of one of these meetings calls for mandatory self-incrimination, seizing evidence without a warrant, or shutting down Web sites, there would be no protection under the Constitution for U.S. citizens.

The goal of 27 different crimes in one action (none / 0) (#14)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 16, 2000 at 06:54:45 PM EST

isn't the real long sentence. The real goal is to avoid a trial by providing lots of material for plea bargaining. That's the Executive goal. The Legislative goal is to "do something about it". We need legislators with the courage to sit there and do nothing when there is nothing legislation can do to help. But we won't get them.

[ Parent ]
Oh please (none / 0) (#11)
by duxup on Tue May 16, 2000 at 06:59:16 AM EST

Some governments are having a meeting! Lets all panic now!

I agree that privacy issues need to be addressed. I think people need to be informed of the issues. However panicking over a "meeting" of some people with no details on the meeting just looks paranoid and does nothing to alert the public to the real issues. If anything crying wolf at things like this does the exact opposite. Bring facts, examples, and good solutions to the table when you want to inform people, not panic and assumptions.

Re: Oh please (none / 0) (#12)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 16, 2000 at 09:07:50 AM EST

perhaps if this was an isolated incident you would be correct, but there is a general trend here. governments of the world are scared of losing control. enter the global police force or surveillance state. maybe you can't see it. maybe it doesn't bother you. you want a good solution? encrypt everything.

[ Parent ]
"malicious hackers" (none / 0) (#13)
by TomG on Tue May 16, 2000 at 12:08:58 PM EST

*stops reading*
*goes on to a better article*

From ILOVEYOU to arrests in cyberspace | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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