Cyber Crime: Identity Theft and Child Pornography
The vast growth of the Internet technology has made various resources in the Web instantly accessible to the users. For instance, the enormous growth of the Internet technology has led to the development of online selling of goods and services where one can purchase goods and services from the comfort of their homes. Also, the advancements in computer processing power have made it easier for computer users to access each other over the network. As a result, cybercrimes have greatly increased. Cybercrime may be defined as a criminal activity that is executed through the use of computers or the Internet. This essay discusses identity theft and child pornography, which are considered to be two major forms of cybercrime. The paper also illustrates the assessment of the intended and unintended consequences of criminal justice policies on the identity theft and child pornography. Lastly, it discusses the impacts of identity theft and child pornography on the organizational management.
Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter illegally uses one’s personal data for personal gains. There are a number of adverse consequences one may suffer as a result of identity theft. For instance, the victim of the identity theft may suffer financial losses as well as tainted reputation. For instance, the victim of identity theft, Michelle Brown, tells the United State Committee in charge of this tragedy that her credit card was obliterated in the attack. In addition, her name was used in conducting drug trafficking that brought about the execution of the warrant of her arrest, as highlighted by the United State Office of Drug Control (2010). For any identity theft attack, an imposter requires critical information identifying the victim, such as date of birth, name, personal identification numbers (PINs), credit card details, driving license, as well as social security number (SSN) as mentioned by Stickley (2008).
Figure 1: Types of Identity Theft (Watermark, 2015).
However, most imposters tend to use victim’s name and date of birth plus any other additional victim’s data in conducting fraud or crime. In other words, an imposter requires date of birth, name and SSN, the three basic elements worth identifying an individual (Dawies, 2013).
An imposter can obtain victim’s date of birth from one of the several birthday databases that are freely obtainable on the Internet, as identified by Dawies (2013). For instance, an attacker can easily access date of birth, city, and the state of an individual from Birthdatabase.com in case they have not requested the removal of their details from these databases (Dawies, 2013).Essentially, this information originates from the United States government official records. In addition to birthday databases, an impostor may use other victim’s personal data, such as her mother’s maiden name in accessing her financial records and in opening new accounts. Similarly, an impostor may also use SSN, nine-digit PIN which is used in paying taxes and applying for credit (Stickley, 2008). Therefore, both victim’s mother’s maiden name and Social Security Number can be used in applying for credit, filing false tax results, and opening bank accounts.
An imposter obtains SSNs by either visiting local agency office or through the Web, since both state and local government publish SSNs on public records. According to the United State Government Accounting Office (GAO) report of 2006, 85% of vastly populated counties conducted survey of published records that may have an element of SSNs, as stated by the United Office of Drug Control (2010). SSNs are treasured both in local and state court files, as well as in local property ownership records. Similarly, driving license can also be used as a source of information, identifying a victim since it contains victim’s identification number. An impostor can then use victim’s identification number and their photo in formulating counterfeit driving license number. Credit card information can also be used as a source of critical information for identity theft. Normally, an impostor uses credit card information in committing credit card fraud by purchasing goods or withdrawing funds without the consent of the victim.
After obtaining these critical data, an impostor deploys several methods of conducting identity theft. For instance, an impostor commits identity theft through the collection of data from RFID and enables passports by using wireless credit card readers. Collection of personal data from employees by malevolent employers who have evil motives is another method for executing identity theft. Communication with strangers with the aim of acquiring confidential data is the next method for implementing identity theft (Stickley, 2008). Enthusiastic observation of victims in order to notice a key in their passwords or PINs can also be a method of conducting identity theft. Another method for conducting identity theft is through obtaining the date of birth from freely available birthday database, or through obtaining SSN from local and state published records. Personal trash may also be the source of obtaining confidential data. Confidential information can as well be received through publication of bogus jobs.
The victim of identity theft can therefore report to local law enforcement officials to file their complaints. Moreover, in the United States, the identity theft victim can file their complaint both with local enforcement office and with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The identity theft complaint submitted to the FTC is an important tool for recovering from identity theft, as well as forming part of the identity of theft report (United State Office of Drug Control, 2010). Most importantly, the identity theft complaint submitted to the FTC may be an aid tool in catching identity thieves by law enforcement agencies.
Impacts of identity theft on an organizational management are numerous. For instance, the police and sheriff department are fond of refusing to issue organizations with a police report claiming that only credit card companies and bank are the real victims of identity theft (Dawies, 2013). This has posed a great challenge to an organizational management especially in proving their innocence to check guarantee services and the credit companies. Therefore, an organizational management is usually threatened by law suits when they failed to prove their innocence. An impostor can also commit a crime using an organization’s name. As a result, many organizations were occasionally sued whenever such a crime happened especially when they failed to prove their innocence to check their creditors, as identified by Dawies (2013). In most cases, identity thieves are using organization’s particulars in conducting drug trafficking that they considered as a lucrative business. Similarly, the health sector has also been adversely affected by this perilous act of identity theft. According to Ponemon Research Institute, the average expense incurred to address medical data breach is $211 per record, as identified by Stickley (2008). In addition, most healthcare providers have lost their customer trust, confidence, and loyalty, especially due to the breach of PHI. As a result, only 70% of Americans trust healthcare providers such as clinics, hospitals, and physicians to protect their PHI (Dawies, 2013).
The intended consequences of criminal justice policies on identity theft are great. For instance, an impostor can be imprisoned for many years in the state prison when they are proved guilty of committing identity theft act. In addition, an identity thief can be forced to compensate for the stolen things (Stickley, 2008). On the other hand, unintended consequences of identity theft on victims of identity theft are also numerous. For instance, many victims of identity theft have been sued especially when they have failed to prove their innocence to their creditors, as identified by Dawies (2013). In addition, many victims have committed suicide after undergoing financial losses through identity theft (Stickley, 2008).
According to Federal Law, child pornography is defined as an explicit display involving a nude minor and an adult who has lascivious intent. The United States Department of Justice is responsible for prosecuting victims of child pornography across the state, the Internet, and across international borders (O’Donnell & Milner, 2012). Various states have diverse definitions of the elements of this crime. For instance, Massachusetts child pornography laws cover all practices of exhibiting or posing a minor in a state of nudity or sexual conduct (Ost, 2009). It also covers all the charges of purchasing, disseminating, or possession of child pornography.
Figure 2: Public Service Advertising on Child Pornography (Ballard, 2010).
A person is regarded a subject of child pornography laws when they upload a nude picture of a minor and share it through social media or send any sexually suggestive text to a minor (O’Donnell & Milner, 2012). Similarly, the minor may also fall in the same trap of child pornography laws when they send their nude pornography to another minor or when they receive a nude photo and forward it to other people. For instance, a high school student may be a victim when they send their nude photo to their girlfriend or boyfriend. Both the sender and the recipient may face trial charges based on child pornography laws. Therefore, anyone distributing or receiving these minor nude images should face prosecution charges.
Intended consequences of child pornography have greatly increased over the last 15 years, as argued by Tafoya (2011). According to Tafoya (2011), the increase of intended consequences of child pornography is about 500 %. For example, Federal Government charges a mandatory jail term of five years for producing, distribution, receipt, or possession of child pornography with malevolence motive of selling, transporting, or distributing. Some victims have been imprisoned in state prison for 20 or more years depending on the number of minor nude images one has been linked to (Tafoya, 2011). Typically, the Federal Law classifies intended consequences of child pornography into three groups. The penalty for possession of child pornography ranges up to 10 years of incarceration. The penalty for distributing child pornography ranges from five to twenty of imprisonment. Lastly, the penalty for sexual exploitation of minor ranges from fifteen years to thirty years of incarceration (Dawies, 2013).
Unintended consequences of child pornography on minors and young adults are also numerous. For instance, Hope Witsell, a thirteen-year old girl, took a half nude photo of herself with her phone camera and sent it to her boyfriend in June 2009 (O’Donnell & Milner, 2012). The boy then sent the same phone to some Witsell’s schoolmates. As a result, the students at the local middle school bullied Witsell for texting and uploading her nude photos on the Internet. Witsell then began cutting herself and journalizing about her harassment which eventually forced her to commit suicide in September 2009, as identified by O’Donnell & Milner (2012). Another incidence of unintended consequences of child pornography occurred when Jessica Logan, an eighteen-year-old woman, sent her nude photo to Ryan Salyers, her eighteen-year-old boyfriend. However, after their relationship ended, Ryan sent Lagan’s nude photo to additional recipients who distributed this photo further to the various high schools. As a result, Logan became depressed and committed suicide on July 3, 2008 (O’Donnell & Milner, 2012).
There are a number of cases of child pornography that have disheartened the effects on organizational management. For instance, Jesse Ryan Loskam, a senior chief of staff for the senator of Tennessee, was a very productive member of his organization (Dawies, 2013). However, he committed suicide when he was issued with a warrant of arrest due to the explicit videos of minors posing nude and engaging in sexual acts which he kept in his digital items. His organization was very productive until December 2013 when he passed on. Another effect of child pornography on organizational management is that incessant use of child pornography among organizational management members is an embodiment of existing sexual interests within the organizational management. Some organizational managers who are propagating child sexual abuse are fond of seeking out child pornography as a way of gratifying their sexual desires, as illustrated by O’Donnell & Milner (2012). Moreover, organizational management members usually view child pornography just before sexual offending. Therefore, child pornography is used to sexually stimulate organizational management members in preparation for child sexual offending (O’Donnell & Milner, 2012). Lastly, child pornography is produced in the process of executing child sexual abuse by organizational management members. Therefore, child pornography is a clear evidence of existing child sexual abuse among the members of organizational management. Hence they can be persecuted by child pornography laws. On the other hand, child production may turn out to be a lucrative business for the organizational management who are producing, selling, transporting, and distributing minor nude images in case they have not fallen in the trap of child pornography laws (Tafoya, 2011).
In conclusion, identity theft is a serious crime and is punishable for long jail term, a fine, or a compensation for the stolen funds. The critical data for committing identity theft include name, mother’s maiden name, data of birth, SSN, driver’s license, PINs, passwords, as well as a photo. On the other hand, there are several methods deployed by the imposter in conducting identity theft. For instance, an imposter can initiate a chat with strangers with the aim of obtaining confidential information from them for illegal personal gains. Identity theft has a lot of impacts on organizational management. For example, identity theft of the organization’s bank details may result in huge financial loses. Similarly, child pornography is also a serious crime, since it may lead to more than 20 years of jail sentence depending on the number of minor nude images that one has distributed. However, different states have varying definitions of the elements of this crime. Therefore, charges on this crime also vary from one state to the other.