When the internet become somewhat accessible for ordinary people, it presented new opportunities in many fields. In its initial years, the Internet was unregulated, since lawmakers had not projected the rapid growth or the forms of online activities that would call for new legislation to protect users ( Hunton, 2009 ). In the decades that have followed the inception of the Internet, it has been found that federal and state governments have gradually introduced laws to address the issue of criminal activities that are conducted over the Internet, including regulations against cyberstalking, cyberbullying and unauthorized access ( Hunton, 2009 ; Mehra, 2010 ). In the end, there are many laws on the books, but law enforcement still finds it challenging to enforce these laws. Given the nature of cyber-crimes, one major challenge facing law enforcement while investigating cyberstalking is the investigating agencies’ inadequate technology. This paper discusses the challenge presented by inadequate technology in addressing cybercrime as well as the problems posed by overlapping of jurisdictions in this context.
Similar to cyberstalking, law enforcement also lacks the required technology to investigate exploitation and obscenity. Most law enforcement agencies tasked with handling cybercrime have been found to be in possession of pileups of incriminating data which have not yet been assessed or processed. Clearing these pileups is a major concern and objective for the heads of these agencies. This only serves to portray the level of inadequacy in technology to aid in the clearing process. As a result, these agencies tend to prefer prosecutions over investigation in the case of cybercrime. Hunton (2009) holds that most law enforcement agencies, even the ones in the main cities, lack the technology required to detect and assess cybercrimes. For instance, exploitation is mostly carried out by individuals and groups which portray a high level of computer literacy. It follows that law enforcement needs to improve the technology used in investigating cybercrime.
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Given that computer crimes are gradually evolving with time, the legislation against these crimes has also been modified from time to time. From the first laws addressing cybercrime, the problem of employing traditional laws became apparent to lawmakers who started pushing for legislation that would match the current state of cybercrime in the United States. For instance, while the wire fraud statute is still being used to prosecute many computer-related crimes, it is no longer effective in addressing cybercrime ( Mehra, 2010 ). The following are three of the most effective laws aimed at addressing current trends in cybercrime.
Law on Cyberstalking
The United States law prohibits anyone from using the mail, or any interactive computer service to conduct surveillance on another person, and in the process, brings about a significant amount of emotional stress to the victim or their loved ones ( Mehra, 2010 ). Also, if such an act causes a reasonable fear of death or harm to the victim or their loved ones, then it is punishable under the law. The punishment for such a crime ranges from a simple restraining order to life imprisonment, depending on the degree and impact of the cyberstalking.
Law on Exploitation
The United States law prohibits anyone from using mail or other interactive computer services to intentionally distribute images or other materials containing confidential information of an individual without their consent ( Mehra, 2010 ). The punishment for committing cyber exploitation often ranges from fines to imprisonment of fewer than ten years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Fines are mostly for misdemeanors where one distributes the confidential information concerning another individual with the aim of causing fear. The long prison sentences are for extortion or the conspiracy to commit extortion.
Law on Obscenity
This law prohibits anyone from using mail or other interactive computer services to distribute obscene visual depictions of another individual or individuals ( Mehra, 2010 ). The punishment for breaking this law ranges from fines to imprisonment, depending on the extent of the crime.
Several jurisdictional aspects have presented problems in the fight against cybercrime, with the most serious one being the overlapping of jurisdictions. In this case, there is no conventional legislation concerning cybercrime among. Additionally, there are currently no provisions in the Law to compel one state to share information with another for the purpose of investigation cybercrime ( Reidenberget al., 2013) . Suppose, for instance, that a law enforcement agency in one state is conducting an investigation on behavior that allegedly constitutes cybercrime. Suppose further that the suspected individual or group acted across state lines while committing the crime. For the corresponding law enforcement agency in the other state to provide additional information to the investigating agency, then this act also needs to be a crime in the second state. Otherwise, t second state would not be required to give the information to the investigating agency.
One way of addressing the problems posed by jurisdictional overlaps is by developing systems to promote coordination between law enforcement agencies in various states, particularly when cyber crimes are committed across state lines. Currently, when a cybercrime involves more than one state, then it is difficult to prosecute a suspect because the act often needs to fulfill three jurisdictions ( Reidenberget al., 2013) . The first one is the law of the state where the suspected is said to have committed the crime. The second is the law of the state where the victim or the other suspect resides. The final jurisdiction is the law of the state where the hosting server is located. Without proper coordination among the law enforcement agencies in these states, as has been seen in the past, prosecution becomes complex and often impossible.
Hunton, P. (2009). The growing phenomenon of crime and the internet: A cybercrime execution and analysis model. Computer Law & Security Review , 25 (6), 528-535.
Mehra, S. (2010). Law and cybercrime in the United States today. American Journal of Comparative Law , 58 (1), 659-685.
Reidenberg, J. R., Debelak, J., Kovnot, J., Bright, M., Russell, N. C., Alvarado, D., & Rosen, A. (2013). Internet Jurisdiction: A survey of legal scholarship published in English and United States Case Law.