- THE INEVITABLE RISE OF DIGITAL CRIME: IS THERE A SOLUTION?
THE INEVITABLE RISE OF DIGITAL CRIME: IS THERE A SOLUTION?
"Emergent Technology is, by its very nature, out of
control and leads to unpredictable outcomes." William
The arrest of Saddam Hussein was considered by many Americans
and British civilians, military figures, and
politicians to be the key to the beginning of the end of the
war in Iraq. It wasn't. But what I want to discuss here is not the
politics of the war in Iraq or Hussein's arrest. I want to examine
the legality of the snuff film of his execution taken clandestinely
by a digital device, a mobile phone camera.
The gruesome images taken in January 2007 of Hussein's
execution were available for public viewing on Al-Jazeera and other
websites on the internet within hours of the execution. That day, a
million people had witnessed the execution. The man who made the
film was arrested by the Iraqi authorities. Photographs or video
images showing a death or "snuff" film used to be actionable or
outlawed in the UK because they were "obscene, defamatory,
libelous…encourag[ing] conduct that would be criminal or otherwise
inappropriate." But now we have entered into an age of uncharted
territory with digital or e-crimes. Now it appears impossible to
legislate against such mobile phone images or control
their reproduction as they move around the globe to unregulated
- Make sure your software is up to date. The more current your
software, the less likely the hacker will know how to break
- Get some software that protects your system. You can even
download some for free.
- Use a good password - no names or other common combinations.
Use at least one number.
- Don't open email attachments from strangers (they may contain
viruses or spyware). Don't download software unless you really need
it and are certain of the author's ID.
The US Dept. of Justice which has developed the most legislation
against digital crime has published a document intended to
encourage good digital device practice entitled "Cyberethics" which
"refers to a code of safe and responsible behaviour for the
internet community." Perhaps the UK could publish such documents.
Enacting more legislation is problematic because the crime is just
transferred to a non-regulated jurisdiction. Regarding the illicit
filming of the execution of Saddam Hussein, the Senior
Vice-President of ABC Bob Murphy commented, the filming "shows the
potential of cell phone video as a powerful new source for news
organizations but also indicates the lack of control authorities
have over people when they are allowed to take pictures." This
comment strikes at the very heart of the problem of policing
digital crime. The authorities have difficulty
monitoring what people do in the privacy of their own homes
and with so many billions of systems and PC's, it is virtually
impossible to control the content of the internet. Perhaps there
will be some better solutions in the future; at the moment, the
present digital-crime wave demonstrates that digital technological
devices have opened a veritable Pandora's Box of criminal