UK is unprepared for Cybercrime – A look at “Digital Britain” and a prediction for its future.

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June 26, 2011 by openbytes

A 19 year old autistic man is accused of an association with Lulzsec, however it took the naming of him by another hacker and the combined forces of the UK/US to bring him to a court. This does not bode well for government agencies tackling the problem in the future.

The news that alleged Lulzsec member Mr Cleary being brought before the courts is widespread.  Its very telling that this “growing industry” of crime is hitting the mainstream press and it also shows how completely unprepared and unskilled the UK is in dealing with it.

I am sure the government and its agencies will claim a great victory over the news that Lulzsec is disbanding, but lets look at this a little deeper and see how exactly it is alleged that the power of the UK Police and FBI were brought to the alleged hacker and asberges sufferer.

It is alleged by some that the person now charged with Computer Misuse Act offences was named by Anonymous some time before, which if true really makes a mockery of the involvement of two massive governmental agencies on an investigation which stretched accross the ocean.

The case of lulzSec is just one of many and if this one arrest (which allegedly came from an online naming by others) is the result of the joint efforts of the UK Police and FBI, then it hardly bodes well for the future.  It is also interesting (going from the comments in the Guardian articles) is that there is no celebration from the mainstream public.

Whilst the public seem to object to the methods groups like Lulzsec employ, the ethos of challenging government and large organizations are welcomed in the face of the corruption and dishonesty that some of those very agencies have already been found guilty of in the past.

Lets also put this into perspective, the LOIC which has caused so many problems in the past (in other cases) is hardly the pinnacle of coding or “l337″ hacking skill.  Anyone can push a button, it will be during the course Mr Cleary’s case that we will see how sophisticated (if he has any involvement) that this LulzSec or Anonymous group are.

Whilst its important to stress that currently Mr Cleary is an innocent man and has not been found guilty of anything, I wonder how impotent the UK/US will look if they fail to get the conviction they obviously think he warrants?

This leads me on nicely to other UK “initiatives” for dealing with online “crimes”.  Putting aside allegations of copyright infringement (see below), we have, Windows machines stuffed full of malware roaming the net.  We have innocent Windows users being unknowingly part of Botnets and even those email scams seem to be going strong so there must still be people falling for them.

Even if the UK had the expertise to effectively tackle these issues, the sheer number makes it an almost impossible task.  Even now, we have reports of fake Olympic sites misleading users into parting with cash for non-existent tickets: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13903874

More posturing by the Government when it comes to online "crime"? Just how on earth do they expect to police it all?

Whatever happened to the DEB?

So what did happen to the Digital Economy Bill?  You know the bill that was rushed through parliament with the last governement?  You could be forgiven for thinking that any ideas of three strikes or similar have been put away in favour of getting more pressing economic matters sorted first.

Maybe its been realized (and this was pointed out at the time) that the whole thing is unworkable.  If ACS:Law proved one thing, its what a gigantic mess can be created out of 27 people disputing an allegation of copyright infringement.  Imagine that multiplied ten thousand fold nationwide.

And who would fund this exercise?  In these financially challenging times, the government won’t want to foot any of the bill and neither will the user if that cost is passed on by the ISP’s.  So it appears, at least for the time being that the DEB was merely lip service to the entertainment industry leaning on the government at the time.

The Future?

So whats a government to do?  On one hand, they can’t keep passing the buck with the entertainment industry, but on the other, how do they fund this massive task?  I have a prediction which would accomodate many of these “problems” that the government would have with the internet.

I think it will only be a matter of time before legislation is introduced that will tackle open WIFI.  Open WIFI is problematic because it provides a damn good defence in a criminal court (in the lack of supporting evidence) and in civil cases (as we have already seen) it provides just enough doubt to render most actions futile.  It also allows people to anonymously exercise their freedom of speech, something which whilst they say otherwise, the government doesn’t like you doing.

Legislation which has provision for those who don’t secure their WIFI or take “reasonable steps” to do so is not so far-fetched when you consider that we already have legislation that makes it an offense to leave your engine running with your keys in your car.

Open WIFI legislation would put far more onus on the subscriber, whilst also effectively creating an offense for having a defense (open WIFI)

I said before that when you look at rural areas still being on dialup speeds and speculative invoicing allowed the slack it has, “Digital Britain” is far from reality.  We’re not even analogue yet.

And for comedic value lets one at one of the many skits on the silly (and failed) UK “anti-piracy” campaigns, which form part of the bigger picture on the UK’s attempts to tackle “online crime”:

Tim (Goblin)

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Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.
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One thought on “UK is unprepared for Cybercrime – A look at “Digital Britain” and a prediction for its future.

  1. [...] UK is unprepared for Cybercrime – A look at “Digital Britain” and a prediction for its future. The news that alleged Lulzsec member Mr Cleary being brought before the courts is widespread. Its very telling that this “growing industry” of crime is hitting the mainstream press and it also shows how completely unprepared and unskilled the UK is in dealing with it. [...]

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Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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