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Cyber Wrongs, Real Harms, Possible Remedies

The Internet and social media are so powerful that legal processes can only partially control them.  Learn about that power and the limited means of control here.  

October 17, 2014, Staff reporter Ted Broomfield, Esq. (all rights reserved – tedbroomfield.com)

The Internet, social media and related technology are extremely powerful communications technologies that have dramatically impacted society. Yet the reach and power of the technology has created significant new problems. These problems include cyber crime and privacy, which are large, fast growing and extremely harmful. Legal resources and remedies and inadequate to respond to the threats and harm from technology. Nevertheless, there are resources that people and business can use to protect themselves and remedy harms.

This article by Ted Broomfield explains cyber wrongs, the real harms and possible remedies. See more at www.tedbroomfieldlaw.com.


“Technology advances faster than humans’ ability to control it.”
This quote is no truer then when applied to the Internet and social media. However, using Internet technology, using the Google search engine, it is difficult to attribute this quote.

Such difficulty is emblematic of the greater societal challenges that Internet, mobile and social media have introduced. Nevertheless, humanity is resilient. When faced with problems, people naturally, by their very nature, focus on solutions.

Online Technology is Powerful

The Internet, mobile and social media are among most significant, fastest and widely adopted communications technologies ever invented. They rank with Guttenberg’s printing press, the telephone, radio and television.

The power of these technologies have transformed most aspects of U.S. society and culture. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, 38% of all Americans got their news from online sources, ranking second only to television at 58%. Forbes’ reports that in 2016, more than 78% of the U.S. population had a FaceBook profile. The consulting firm McKinsey, calls the Internet and related technologies the great transformer, and claimed that the Internet accounted for 21% of GDP growth in developed economies between 2005 and 2011.

However, the far reach and anonymity of the Internet have created serious new problems.

Online Technology Creates Complex New Problems

While the Internet and related technologies have dramatically improved the human condition, they have also created significant new problems. According to Forbes’, Eric Schmidt’s testified to the United States Congress that hackers & cybercriminals, privacy and censorship are among the three largest problems with the technology.

Average individuals and businesses will increasing confront these very real threats.

Cybercrime is Large and Growing.  Almost every American has been a victim of a cyber crime. USA Today reported that on October 3, 2017, Yahoo admitted that 3 billion of its users’ accounts had been hacked. On September 7, 2017, Credit Bureau Equifax disclosed that between May 2017 and July 2017, hackers stole personal data that Equifax stored on 143 million people. The U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics reports that annually 6.6 million people are stalked, 83% of such stalking incidents involve at least one form of cyber stalking, and in 2014 more than 17.4 million Americans had their identity stolen.

Privacy Concerns are Justified, Insufficient Solutions

As alarming as the cyber crime statistics are, privacy may be a more significant issue. The Pew Research Center reports that 74% of Americans feel it is important to control who can obtain their personal information, 91% strongly agree that consumers have lost control of their data. However, Pew reports that only 37% of respondents feel that they have done enough to safeguard their own privacy.

Cyber crime and Online Privacy Invasions are Enormously Harmful

Cyber crime and online privacy invasions have a massive cost on individuals and society, measured in terms of money, time, and well being. Web security software company MacAfee estimates that between $375 and $445 billion dollars are lost annually to cyber criminals. Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant, estimates that in the United States ensuring consumer privacy annually can cost $83.0 billion and 2.1 billion hours. But the cost is measured in more than just dollars and time. The loss of a sense of security and well-being may be difficult to measure, but the actual harm is priceless.

Inadequate Solutions

The facts indicate that the impact from cyber crime and privacy is staggering.
Unfortunately, the available solutions are not a match for the problem. Indeed, the World Economic Forum estimated that a significant portion of cyber crime goes unreported. , Among the cyber crime that is reported, CSO reports that only .01% of cyber criminals are prosecuted, and only 1% of those prosecuted are convicted. Laws, regulations and resources simply have not kept pace with the misuses of new technologies.

Resources and Help

Despite the staggering scope of the problems, there are resources and solutions available. Proactively protecting personal data, monitoring credit and asset accounts, using monitoring services, purchasing insurance, using secure passwords & changing them frequently, shredding sensitive paper work, avoiding shoulder surfing & electronic phishing attempts provide significant protections at a relatively low cost.

With respect to privacy, avoiding oversharing, utilizing privacy settings, screening and blocking threats can also go a long way towards prevention.

Once problems develop, federal, state and local task forces exist to investigate and prosecute cybercrime. New federal laws provide for penalties for wrongdoers and remedies for victims.

Credit Bureaus enable credit freezes.

Despite the large number of resources available to prevent & remedy cyber crime and privacy wrongs, the remedies are time consuming and challenging to obtain.  Even when obtained, such remedies infrequently restore victims to where they were before the harm occurred.

This is the first in a series of news articles designed to help people protect themselves from technological harms, and help people, who have been harmed, get help.

If you need legal assistance with your cybercrime or privacy problem, feel free to contact my law office, Ted Broomfield Law at (415) 500-2029 or visit tedbroomfieldlaw.com

Resources

http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/pathways-to-news/, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2016/04/21/how-has-social-media-changed-us/#836206e5dfc4, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-great-transformer, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/07/23/great-power/, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2011/09/Eric-Schmidt-Testimony.pdf, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/03/22/three-of-the-internets-biggest-problems-according-to-googles-eric-schmidt/#7e55fb0c7ebd, accessed October 14, 2017.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/10/03/3-billion-yahoo-users-breached-company-says/729155001/, accessed October 14, 2017.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-09-14/thank-you-for-calling-equifax-your-business-is-not-important-to-us

https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=973, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=42, accessed on October 14, 2017.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/21/the-state-of-privacy-in-america/, accessed on October 14, 2017.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/21/the-state-of-privacy-in-america/, accessed on October 14, 2017.

http://www.epic.org/reports/dmfprivacy.html, accessed October 14, 2017.

http://ilj.law.indiana.edu/articles/86/86_3_Calo.pdf, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://securityintelligence.com/20-eye-opening-cybercrime-statistics/, accessed on October 14, 2017.

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR/WEF_GRR16.pdf, accessed on October 14, 2017.

https://www.csoonline.com/article/3147398/data-protection/why-its-so-hard-to-prosecute-cyber-criminals.html, accessed on October 14, 2017.

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