Articles Tagged with internet crime

w33-zg-dnl4-rami-al-zayat-300x200The internet has not only opened up new avenues of communication, but has also created an entire category of crimes that require bespoke responses from the legislature. It is from that perspective that Chicago has come up with an internet solicitation legal framework which captures cyber sex crimes (720 ILCS 5/11-6.6 for enticement), among other things. On the other hand, the rules as they exist have left the door open for vigilantes and ingénues to entice otherwise ordinary citizens into compromising situations. The web sting has become an effective tool for police to target suspected pedophiles and other types of online offenders. More recently the phenomenon of revenge porn and unsolicited sexting has plagued legislatures across the globe. For the defense attorney, entrapment might be one of the critical issues that needs to be examined.

How the Law is Designed and Implemented

For a person to fall within the ambit of the law, they must knowingly engage in acts that amount to criminality, but the lines are blurred when undercover agents effectively encourage predisposed people to engage in illegal acts. At other times the law is the only way of being able to capture those sophisticated offenders who have a secretive network of contacts that are able to access some of the most offensive material that is currently available on the internet. Typically the offender is so unsympathetic that the public is unable to pay any attention to the civil liberties issues that may have been raised during his or her arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing. Ignorance and apathy remain key characteristics of the type of offender that engages with the internet in this way (see 720 ILCS 5/11-6 for indecent solicitation and online sexual solicitation rules). Some may consider it relatively harmless to surf certain pages while others are simply unaware that they are breaking specific laws in Chicago.

file9961246478372The highest courts in the USA have considered this question and apparently found that to some extent the answer is no. Specifically, the higher courts objected to some of the provisions as they relate to identity theft and the constitutional rights of defendants. The Illinois Supreme Court consequently overturned a key provision of the state identity theft statute. The key contention was that this provision was effectively criminalizing conduct that would otherwise not be considered to be criminal. The case in question involved a Google search in where there was no evidence of criminal intent.  The internet has opened up so many opportunities but also a series of legal nightmares for the profession, particularly with regards to the world of social media, which seems to require laws unto itself. Consequently, there is a genuine fear about the escalating practice of identity theft. The state legislators felt that they had to act even at the expense of civil liberties.

Overkill in Regulating Internet Activity

As is often the case in legal cases, the cure can be as painful as the disease. The innocent end up suffering at the hands of lawmakers who are not as comfortable with new media as they ought to be. The temptation is to ban everything or alternatively to give room for suing over nothing. In the People v Madrigal, No 110194, 2011 WL 1074427 (Ill Sup Ct), the defendant successfully convinced the Illinois Supreme court that the law had become an unfair burden. Specifically, section 16G-15(a) (7) of the Identity Theft Law (720 ILCS 5/16G–1 et seq.) indicated that a criminal offense occurs if a person uses the identity of another in order to gain access to information online without the permission of the person whose identity is being used. The act is clear enough when it comes to criminal activity that involves overstepping identity verification procedures through impersonation in order to commit a crime. However the position is less clear if no criminal purpose is intended.