Chaos and order clash in this riveting exploration of crime and punishment on the Internet.
Once considered a borderless and chaotic virtual landscape, the Internet is now home to the forces of international law and order. It’s not just computer hackers and cyber crooks who lurk in the dark corners of the Web—the cops are there, too.
In The Internet Police, Ars Technica deputy editor Nate Anderson takes readers on a behind-the-screens tour of landmark cybercrime cases, revealing how criminals continue to find digital and legal loopholes even as police hurry to cinch them closed. From the Cleveland man whose "natural male enhancement" pill inadvertently protected the privacy of your e-mail to the Russian spam king who ended up in a Milwaukee jail to the Australian arrest that ultimately led to the breakup of the largest child pornography ring in the United States, Anderson draws on interviews, court documents, and law-enforcement reports to reconstruct accounts of how online policing actually works. Questions of online crime are as complex and interconnected as the Internet itself. With each episode in The Internet Police, Anderson shows the dark side of online spaces—but also how dystopian a fully "ordered" alternative would be.
Includes an afterword that details law enforcement's dramatic seizure of the online black market Silk Road.
Anderson, a senior editor at Ars Technica, shows how sophisticated criminals have moved much of their business from the physical world to the amorphous, anonymous, but far-from-lawless realm of ones and zeros. You wouldn't think software piracy could lead to international manhunts, high-stakes trials, and sieges of extravagant compounds, but that and more is all here: in nine loosely linked chapters, Anderson takes readers into the Wild West of the digital world, examining famous offenses to understand the structural challenges of governing the Internet and the newest policing methods used to sniff out online crime. Anonymity afforded by the Internet has allowed for violations big and small, from vitriolic and bigoted e-mails to massive online drug markets and file-sharing networks that have eroded copyright status and created nesting grounds for child pornography rings and sex trafficking. Anderson's takes on landmark digital cases (like the RIAA's wave of infringement lawsuits) are valuable, colorfully drawn primers but traces of a thematic center unravel early in the book. Anderson meticulously tracks the evolution of Internet policing and asks some glancing questions about the future of civil liberties, but in the end he shies away from a more searching, committed conclusion.