Computer Based Crime
The Internet facilitates a wide range of criminal behavior. The websites that facilitate or promote these crimes fall into two categories: sites that deliberately facilitate crime, and sites that conduct legitimate business but are used by some for illegal purposes. Examples of the first category are sites where prostitutes advertise their services, and sites to teach you how to grow marijuana or make bombs. In the second category are legitimate businesses that can be misused, such as a site to help customers open an offshore bank account.
Search the Internet for an example of a site that facilitates crime. Do not enter any site related to illegal pornography. Prepare a report in Microsoft Word that addresses these points:
- Select and describe an appropriate example of a website that openly promotes illegal activities. What illegal activities are promoted by this site?
- How open is this operation? How easy or difficult was it to locate this site?
- Which law enforcement agencies (in the United States or abroad) would have the responsibility of taking action against the owners of the site?
- Examine the reasons why a site like this is able to continue to operate. (Keep in mind the constitutional protections regarding free speech, as well as the laws of the location where the site is hosted).
In your report, be sure to apply the concepts and terminology from the course wherever possible. Support your responses with examples. Cite any sources in APA format.
Computer Based Crime
Torrent sites are a gold mine for movie and television lovers. It provides global content at no cost. Even after the advent of sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime, they continue to have a dominant hold on the internet and its users. Many users especially in the early 2000s did not even have the awareness that the act of downloading torrent is illegal. Though in today’s era, this reasoning is inexcusable, mainly because there is a lot of understanding about piracy in the internet community. One of the biggest torrent sites in the world is Pirate Bay, which even after almost a decade-long cat-and-mouse game with authorities has continued to thrive. The main causes behind this thriving are its mechanism and the various loopholes in the judicial system.
Select and describe an appropriate example of a website that openly promotes illegal activities. What illegal activities are promoted by this site?
The Internet is a source of information as well as criminal activities. It has become the perfect mode to lure naïve victims, and profit from them. One such website is The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay is a website that provides torrents. Torrents are links containing downloadable files. These files are mostly of films or television shows. The primary law broken by these sites is undoubtedly Piracy. Piracy has been considered a federal crime. If someone is caught downloading copyrighted content from the internet, they can be put into jail for almost a year (Yadav et al. 2021, p.62). In the past America also planned to introduce a staunch bill called Stop Online Piracy Act. Though ultimately the act did not come to fruition, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith commented that the committee remains committed to finding a solution to the piracy problem. Another felony in this case is that of copyright infringement. Every content in the media is copyrighted by its owners. It is the owners who decide whether and where the content should be published or distributed. Distributing content through torrents takes away that right from them, as they in any circumstance will not distribute their material through a medium in which they gain no profit. Websites like PirateBay, earn a profit by displaying advertisements. They gain a large crowd of visitors by offering them content like movies and shows and then providing the crowd with the advertisement. The methodology is used by other typical websites like blogs. Though in the case of blogs, the content provided is their own, whether it is a video or a writing. Here, the content is of other people, but they don’t get even a penny of this operation. Hence, downloading from this site or publishing someone else’s content on such sites means that the individual is infringing the copyright of the owner. The owner in such a situation can and should file a case of Patent infringement. The use of torrents is also capable of infringing the user’s privacy, as downloading such links could induce viruses in the system, eventually taking away any kind of information they need. The following cases prove that such activities provide enough information about the user to get them convicted.
The issue of piracy and illegal torrent garnered central stage when during the early 2000s various torrent websites especially bit torrents began to get judicially sued, due to publishing copyrighted content. The first action was taken in Finland when the authorities conducted a raid on Finreactor. As a result, most of the administrators were ordered to pay a fine of up to 60,000 euros. Hong Kong also began prosecuting people uploading copyrighted content on bit torrents. One of those cases led to imprisonment for the perpetrator. Odex sent cease and desist letters to users illegally downloading their content from Bit-torrent. These users had to settle for 3,000 dollars each. One of those users was a 9-year-old boy. Supernova, a file-sharing website, had to close its operations due to authoritarian pressure. Pirate Bay has been the most enduring of all these sites, having continued its operations even after a multitude of threats. Their bravado knows no ends, as they publically display on their site letters and replies to the issue of copyright infringement. Ultimately, BitTorrent Founder Bran Cohen had to sign an agreement with NPA to remove illegal content, from the application. Though successful to some extent, the efforts during the early 2000s could not effectively bring a conclusion to this system.
How open is this operation? How easy or difficult was it to locate this site?
The operation is extremely reachable and open. Its ‘openness’ could be judged by the fact that even pre-teens know the methodology of operating torrents. The efficient accessibility it displays is because of the widespread use of the internet. The Internet has literally reached every hand. A simple Google Search can gain individual access to PirateBay. The presence of not only Pirate Bay but also sites like it such as torrents and Kickass torrents is rampant (Sidpara et al. 2018, p.150). Many thought that after the popularity of sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the demand for such sites might wane, and in many cases, it has reduced, though it is still at a considerable rate. The reasoning is simple it is cheaply available and provides high-quality content if someone is willing to wait a few hours.
After the various judicial problems that occurred in the early 2000s, the manner in which these operations are conducted has become covert. Due to the increased monitoring torrent sites frequently change their domains. In the case of Pirate Bay, the original site is kept alive with no links, and just the information, about the way to access the other domains. The site has an extensive network of Seeds and Peers. Seeds refer to people who are uploading content to the site, and Peers are data points that perform the dual function of uploading and downloading. Through the use of VPN and other advanced software, the administrators keep changing their location so that they cannot be prosecuted by a particular country. The involvement of so many countries makes it extremely difficult for them to be caught and then enter judicial proceedings. The Pirate Bay to evade legal shutdown in the last decade has begun providing its content in the form of plaintext magnet links. After getting caught and forced to serve sentences in Sweden, the founders of The Pirate Bay make sure to continue changing through varying hosting spots and domains. Through advertisement, Pirate Bay racks up revenue of almost 1.3 billion dollars, from lucrative advertisement deals. In order to bring a conclusion to the activities of this site, its medium of earning needs to be nipped in the bud. As long as advertisers keep offering their content, these sites will continue their functioning, by publishing copyrighted media, through torrent files. Since the internet’s vastness prevents it from effectively controlling the reach of torrent sites, the companies providing advertisements to these sites can be apprehended (Sīlis, 2018, p.40).
Which law enforcement agencies (in the United States or abroad) would have the responsibility of taking action against the owners of the site?
Piracy is a federal and International crime and therefore is investigated by agencies like FBI Local Office, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Federal nature of the crime makes it come under the jurisdiction of the FBI, while the fact that it operates through multiple countries makes it a crime of interest for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement. All of its functioning happens on the Internet and therefore elements like Hacking, Phishing, and Piracy can also be prosecuted by Internet Crime Complaint Center (Kuzmina, 2021, p.126). The complaints are mostly made by the copyright owners of the content that is being published illegally. For investigation, various methodologies like tracking are used by the agencies to apprehend the perpetrators. After apprehension, the perpetrators usually go through judicial proceedings. Since there is a lack of precedent in such cases, the sentencing in such issues gets extremely difficult for the judiciary (Nevena, 2018, p.30).
Examine the reasons why a site like this is able to continue to operate. (Keep in mind the constitutional protections regarding free speech, as well as the laws of the location where the site is hosted).
The reason why sites like Pirate Bay continue to function primarily is because of people’s desire to have free content. The easy accessibility to free content keeps the site running successfully. Even to this date, a strong Act has not been formulated against Piracy for a variety of reasons, which also contributes to its success. The reasoning is aspects like Free Speech and Innovation. In order to stop pirated content on a single webpage, there is a possibility that internet domains could be blocked. If harsher laws are made against Piracy then possibly websites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Choi & Kwak, 2020, p.2208). Could also become vulnerable. Library Associations could also come under prosecution. For all these reasons it is impossible to have stronger laws against Piracy and harm its operation in any manner. The methodology of requiring search engines to not show the torrent domains, also cannot be applied as it strictly goes against the First Amendment. Any attempt to hugely limit torrent sites means implying Internet Censorship, which goes against democratic ideals. Thus, due to all these rationales, Pirate Bay continues to run successfully on the internet (Dunks, 2018, p.126).
Sites like Pirate Bay, not only lawfully but also are morally violating. These sites are morally violating because they are publishing the hard work of other people, to gain personal profit. In return, they are providing nothing to the actual owners, monetarily or emotionally. Moreover, they incur losses. The fact that using torrents has become such a subtle affair, has also led to it losing the promotional aspect, completely. No content distributed in such a way gains even an ounce of promotion. Hence, it is the need of the hour that the judiciary and authority deal with this threat wisely.
Choi, S. K., & Kwak, J. (2020). Feature analysis and detection techniques for piracy sites. KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems (TIIS), 14(5), 2204-2220.
Dunks, G. (2018). FULL STREAM AHEAD AGAINST PIRACY. Metro Magazine, (197), 125-126.
Kuzmina, A. (2021). Protecting video games against online copyright infringement: a Russian approach to site blocking. Interactive Entertainment Law Review, 4(2), 122-127.
Nevena, D. (2018). Online Content At Arm’s Length–Consumers In Torrent Platforms In Bulgaria. Caietele Lucian Blaga, 19(19/2), 29-38.
Sidpara, C. B., Khimani, K. U., Upadhyay, D., & Vasant, A. R. (2018). Analysing Distribution of Copyrighted Files by Tracking BitTorrent Network. In Smart Trends in Systems, Security and Sustainability (pp. 149-155). Springer, Singapore.
Sīlis, G. (2018). Illegal Latvia. Methods of intellectual property right enforcement in times of peer-to-peer file sharing.
Yadav, M., Bhadola, M. S., Bhatia, M. K., & Sharma, R. (2021). Torrent Poisoning: Antipiracy and Anonymity. International Journal of Innovative Analyses and Emerging Technology, 1(3), 60-63.