Finding a Middle Ground on the Internet

I have often written about internet freedom and the perils that can accompany real government regulation of the virtual world. I recently saw an article that provides the stark counterpoint to that viewpoint. From Yahoo!:

Interpol president Khoo Boon Hui said on Tuesday that organised international gangs are behind most internet scams and that cyber crime's estimated cost is more than that of cocaine, heroin and marijuana trafficking put together.

Speaking to delegates at the opening of the France-based international police agency's European Regional Conference in Tel Aviv, Khoo quoted a study by London's Metropolitan University indicating that "80 percent of crime committed online is now connected to organised gangs operating across borders. Criminal gangs now find that transnational and cyber crime are far more rewarding and profitable than other, riskier forms of making money," he said.

"Experts have warned that the cost of cyber crime is larger than the combined costs of cocaine, marijuana and heroin trafficking. In Europe, the cost of cybercrime has apparently reached 750 billion euros ($979 billion) a year," he said...He said that US banks reportedly lost $900 million (690 million euros) to conventional robbers last year but $12 billion (9.2 billion euros) to cyber criminals. (emphasis added)

Such statistics should remind internet freedom advocates of the other side of the coin. Though I am a staunch advocate of internet rights, there are real issues that come along with not policing the internet at all. There just has to be some middle ground between over-reaching legislation and lawlessness

Too often that potential middle ground is lost as Big Brother and those who would oppose him bump heads. And, of course, as part of any discussion on this matter, there has to be a recognition of the fact that freedom advocates and those who commit crimes on the web have a very complicated, often incestuous relationship. Such a state of affairs necessarily obfuscates the issues in any reasoned debate.

Like many other people, I bank online, I shop online and I enjoy knowing that there are some safeguards against my information being commandeered by parties who would do me harm. I also like having all of the acquired knowledge of humanity at my fingertips and the ability to share my thoughts with the world without fear of repression. I believe that, taken together, those positions represent a majority opinion, and there should be a way to represent them using a legal framework. Until then, I will likely continue to join others in fighting against bills which give the government nearly unlimited power with no accountability to match.

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