Sometimes unusual times call for unusual measures, and to borrow the cliché: do we bite the bullet, and change tact from the present criminalization of ID theft? I know mine would be a very unpopular hypothesis, but one common characteristic of hackers –who by the way may easily be into ID theft and phishing – is that they are usually people with above average intelligence. Kudos to all the companies dedicated to dealing with this menace, usually as a technological pro-bono gesture. Thumbs up to them.
But it might be necessary to ask ourselves: is it possible to eradicate ID theft/ phishing, or at the very least make it so rare as to become almost a non-issue? Do we have the technology to overpower these malicious individuals, and make their ‘art’ so difficult and so financially unproductive so that we end up forcing them to look for legitimate ways of spending their free time?
My answer is an emphatic No. unlike the vehicle industry which takes years to produce a more advanced simple gadget like a carburetor, computer innovations present us with almost daily new, easier to use, hip devices which make life so much fun. Therefore no government can ever discourage the internet revolution and its ever astounding innovations, unless they want to risk a countrywide mutiny.
But could hackers/phisers be successfully re-integrated into the law-abiding populace? Should criminal activity be seen to be encouraged? What about the victims? But if we will never defeat the miscreants, then what is the alternative?
My view, however unpopular, is this: in exchange for leniency/possible outright forgiveness, I’d propose the hacker and the “phisher” to be presented with two alternatives:
- A sort of a six month moratorium, where total cooperation with law enforcement agencies should lead to their being absorbed into a special IT security institute – a sort of a half-way house – with good pay, but 50% of it goes to reimburse their victims.
- For those who refuse to come out of their dark criminal world- a long jail term plus hefty fines should await them. I think the reasonable ones would take the former option.