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Cyber Crime - Criminalizing The Internet

activities apply federal laws

While there are many benefits from the Internet, it has also become a powerful tool in the hands of those wishing to engage in criminal activities. Each time an advance in technology becomes available to the public—the telegraph, telephone, automobile, airplane, or the Internet—criminal opportunities increase as well. The Internet provides worldwide, rapid, inexpensive connections, and can be used without revealing one's identity.

Internet crime is also referred to as cyber crime. Existing federal laws that apply to criminal activities committed by traditional means apply to those same activities committed with use of the Internet. For example, existing federal laws for identity theft, credit card theft, securities fraud, and gambling apply to both online and offline activities. Internet crime, however, presents major challenges to law enforcement agencies. Internet criminals not only can hide their identities but can use numerous Internet pathways to make tracking their activities very difficult.

Collecting evidence and prosecuting a cyber criminal requires highly skilled computer sleuths, who must be well equipped and trained. Cooperation is essential between local, state, federal, and international officials since Internet communication moves across many traditional law enforcement regions or geographic areas. The speed of an investigation is also very important since tracing anonymous emails that contain threats of violence can save innocent lives. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the U.S. government made keeping the Internet safe and secure a top priority.

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