[ISN] Old Laws Work against New Crime

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Thu Oct 29 1998 - 20:29:05 PST

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    Forwarded From: Nicholas Charles Brawn <ncb05t_private>
    There are several widely held notions about Internet-related crime.  One
    holds that law enforcement cannot deal with quick-hit criminals whose
    global computer transactions can be accomplished in seconds. Another is
    that the police forces of many nations will never close ranks to share
    information and coordinate investigations. Still another holds that
    Washington must have the means to decode computer encryption if law
    enforcement is to do its job. As Times staff writers Mark Fritz and
    Solomon Moore showed last Friday in an article about a child pornography
    investigation, none are necessarily true. 
    U.S. Customs Service computer experts worked closely with local law
    enforcement and several foreign police agencies to conduct, over the
    course of two days, 100 raids in California and 21 other states and in
    Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the
    Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Their target was the
    largest Internet child pornography ring discovered to date, known as
    "I'm unaware of another police operation that has ever pulled together so
    many law enforcement agencies worldwide," Bob Packham, the deputy director
    general of Britain's National Crime Squad, told a reporter. 
    Wonderland was a tight-knit group that freely traded 100,000 images of
    child pornography. Its members had production studios for live child sex
    shows that they transmitted over the Net. The operation had a
    computer-security designer and programming and hardware specialists who
    built a daunting array of codes and powerful encryption to maintain
    Encryption employs complicated algorithms to scramble documents until they
    can be decoded by the intended receiver. Although encryption surely will
    be a backbone of trust and security in the electronic communications and
    business transactions of the future, U.S. federal law enforcement agencies
    presently maintain that they need access and eavesdropping ability to
    prevent criminals from plying their trade in secrecy. But in the child
    pornography case, traditional law enforcement means like wiretaps, search
    warrants and message tracing proved sufficient. In other words,
    traditional methods were applied to a new medium. 
    Some privacy advocates are unnerved by what they see as entrapment in this
    case, but that's preposterous. Depravity has been brought to light. Some
    of the children depicted have been identified as relatives and neighbors
    of accused Wonderland members. 
    This case exposes vile secrets. But more important, it shows how an
    electronically well-defended crime ring can be broken without overarching
    laws and assaults on privacy. 
    LOS ANGELES TIMES 28/10/1998 P6 
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