Free Responsibilities Of The FBI AND The FTC In Responding To Digital Crime Essay Sample
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The great technological advancements of the last two decades have dramatically changed the face of crime. Whereas the traditional crimes still exist, a new brand of crime, known as digital crime has taken root and spread. Digital crime, or cybercrime, refers to crime that is committed using computers as well as a network. As the use of information technology continues to permeate virtually every sector of modern life, so too does the threat of fraud, theft and other abuses increase. Hence, with the increasing dependence on technology comes increased vulnerability to cybercrime. Law enforcement agencies have thus found themselves forced to adapt in order to counter this emerging challenge. Two of the agencies charged with dealing with this challenge are the FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission. This paper looks at the role of these two agencies in combating digital crime.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is the United States’ domestic security and intelligence service. The Bureau also serves as the country’s prime law enforcement agency for federal crimes. This dual law enforcement and intelligence role means that the FBI reports to the Attorney General as well as the Director of National Intelligence. The FBI is charged with the investigation of a vast range of federal crime categories. The main goal of the Bureau is the protection and defense of the United States and among its top priorities is the protection against crimes utilizing high technology, as well as cyber-attacks.
The FBI has a specialized branch, known as the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, which is specifically charged with the investigation of all forms of cybercrime. One category of cybercrime that the FBI is charged with investigating is cyber fraud as well as financial crimes. Specific crimes in this category include bank fraud as well as extortion. Other examples are identity theft, and theft of classified information such as government secrets.
Social engineering crimes are another class of cybercrimes that the FBI investigates. These refer to crimes where the criminal attempts to manipulate the victim to obtain confidential information from them. The criminal does this by masquerading as someone that is entitled to ask for this information. For instance, they may pretend to be a bank official in order to obtain the bank details of the victim.
The FBI also investigates cyber-extortion, where a computer system, website, or server is subjected to repeated attacks, such as denial of service attacks. In order to stop these attacks, the malicious hackers demand money from the victims. These attacks are mainly targeted at corporate websites as well as networks. A good example of this type of attack is the 2014 attack perpetrated on Sony Pictures Entertainment, where confidential data that belonged to the company was released. This information included personal data about employees as well as films, which had yet to be released. The group behind the attack was called the “Guardians of Peace,” and they demanded the cancellation of a film known as “the Interview” which was set for release, in return for an end to the attacks.
Another category of cybercrime under FBI jurisdiction is cyber terrorism, which refers to terror related acts done using computer resources or cyberspace. Cyber terrorists aim to intimidate governments or organizations through computer based attacks, for the advancement of political or social goals. The FBI investigates such crimes thanks to its role as a counterintelligence agency. Since such crimes may have international perpetrators, the FBI may liaise with Interpol during the course of investigations.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is another agency charged with online security. The FTC is an autonomous government agency that is established under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC’s mainly aims at the protection of consumers, as well as the prevention of business practices that stifle competition. The FTC is responsible for investigation of various types of economic fraud such as false advertising.
One of the largest and most widespread categories of cybercrime is identity theft. Identity theft refers to the theft of personal identifying information such as Social Security Numbers, financial and medical records. Breaches of corporate data represent prime source of this information for potential cyber criminals. Hence, the data protection measures instituted by companies affect the security of customers’ data in a great way. Thus, the FTC, as the chief consumer protection agency has an interest in the data security measures instituted by companies.
Federal agencies differ from local law enforcement agencies in various ways in their ability to investigate digital crimes. The first difference is in terms of the skills and competencies available. Federal agencies often have specialized skills and employ information experts in their specialized departments to address these crimes. Hence, these highly proficient officers are able to easily investigate the crimes since they have similar skills to these criminals. This is in contrast to local law enforcement officers, who in most cases are not tech-savvy. Outside the basic computer operations, these officers do not possess the specialized skills that would enable them to effectively combat the crimes.
Another difference is in jurisdictional issues. Whereas the federal agencies have jurisdiction across the country, local law enforcement officers are limited in their geographical area of operation. Hence, if for instance, a cybercrime is committed in one state but the perpetrators are located in another state, the local law enforcement officers have their hands tied due to lack of jurisdiction. Federal agencies such as the FBI on the other hand, face no such problems. Their jurisdiction extends across all state borders and they can pursue the criminals anywhere.
It is evident that digital crime is an emerging crime that continues to grow day by day. Hence, this necessitates a paradigm shift in operations and ways of combating this issue. This means that more and more agencies continue to be involved in this fight. Just as cybercrime spans several sectors, so must the responses be. The FBI's role, as the primary agency charged with coordination of this fight is particularly crucial. Collaboration with the local law enforcement agencies in order to improve their technical proficiency is the only sure way of improving the chances of winning this fight.
Abbott, A. (2014, September 10). The Federal Trade Commission’s Role in Online Security: Data Protector or Dictator? Retrieved April 22, 2015, from The Heritage Foundation: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/the-federal-trade-commissions-role-in-online-security-data-protector-or-dictator
Addressing Threats to the Nation’s Cybersecurity. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/addressing-threats-to-the-nations-cybersecurity
Child, B. (2014, December 9). Hackers demand Sony cancel release of Kim Jong-un-baiting comedy. The Guardian.
Kramer, F. D. (2011). Cyber Security: An Integrated Governmental Strategy For Progress. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 136-150.
MacLean, E. K., & Davies, J. E. (2007). The Wisconsin Idea and the Origins of the Federal Trade Commission. Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 248–284.
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Quick Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/quick-facts/quickfacts
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