1994-06-08 - Re: Cyberspace is by nature crime-free

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From: jamesd@netcom.com (James A. Donald)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: d7ec79e3941ce1d6914f34d661a09f07546265b53217a40b3178545648be1cb2
Message ID: <199406080612.XAA13707@netcom.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-06-08 06:12:16 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 7 Jun 94 23:12:16 PDT

Raw message

From: jamesd@netcom.com (James A. Donald)
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 94 23:12:16 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Cyberspace is by nature crime-free
Message-ID: <199406080612.XAA13707@netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Matthew Gream writes
> I have to disagree with this, especially the title 'is by
> nature'. Cyberspace as a communications forum still
> presents many opportunities for crime as are present in
> physical and related communications media. To rattle a few
> off the top of my head without thinking to broadly:
> - break and enter --> cracking/hacking (whatever you want
>   to call it)
Can be limited to acceptable levels by normal precautions.
The owner ultimately has physical control, the cracker does
>  - vilification, discrimination
Not a crime.
>  - sedition
Not a crime.
>  - inciting violence
Not a crime.
>  - fraud (as you've mentioned)
There is plenty of fraud, but it can be controlled by
common sense and cryptographic precautions.  (Gasp - this
post is actually slightly relevant to the Cyberpunks list.)
>  - transfering funds, tax evasion
Not a crime.  Neither of these are extraditable offenses.
>  - illegal business activity, false advertising
Not a crime, except for fraud, discussed above.
>  - contempt of court
There is plenty of contempt of court.  Courts are coming
to accept the reality that cyberspace is beyond their
power, hence not a crime.  Note that contempt of court has
never been an extraditable offense.
>  - copyright infringment
There is plenty of copyright infringement, but the old
concept of copyright does not fit well on the net, because
information is separated from its physical embodiment and
is endlessly mutable.
The concept of "copyright" has limited usefulness in
cyberspace.  We are returning to the older concepts of
"plagiarism" and "authenticity".  Notice how many people
were reluctant to accept PGP 2.6 until it was blessed by
> Admittedly by the nature of cyberspace, detecting and
> gaining evidence for these crimes can be more complicated
> than in a tangible physical medium, but none the less these
> actions are still criminal.
If a law cannot be enforced, or cannot be enforced except
by grossly violating someone's rights, then it is no law.
But cyberspace does make new offenses possible. 
The two new offenses of cyberspace are spamming and spoofing.
Both of these seem to be controlled at acceptable levels.
Spamming is controlled by vengeance campaigns of the
silicon cowboys and the cyber vigilantes.   The green card
lawyers were run off the net. The Armenian genocide guy is
almost within net custom, he pushes the edge but does not
obviously exceed it.
Serious spoofing seems rare.  In every spoofing that I have
seen the spoofer has made his true identity fairly obvious,
which is why we call it spoofing, not impersonation.  If
anyone is in real danger of malicious spoofing - for
example David Sternlight - then he should PGP sign all his
messages, thus eliminating the problem.
We have the right to defend ourselves and our    |
property, because of the kind of animals that we |         James A. Donald
are.  True law derives from this right, not from |
the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.     |         jamesd@netcom.com