Criminology: Globalization

Globalization & Global Trends in Criminal Behavior

By Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen
Pretoria, South Africa

Globalization can be defined as a process by means of which most of the world's developed countries and some of the developing countries aim to improve inter alia the free flow of information, money, ideas, cooperation, detection, exchange, and prosecution of criminals, technology, and trade between nations. However, achievement of ultimate globalization as a goal is still in the distant future. Many obstructions and constraints have as yet to be overcome, such as cultural and economic inequalities.

The globalization process was speeded up during the last century with the advent of the worldwide Internet. Simultaneously the criminal underworld benefited from a tremendous kick-start due to the fact that global rising trends in respect to crime centered on the creation of worldwide criminal syndicates that are mainly established by means of communication networks and universal liaison. Since then the World Wide Web (WWW) has offered tremendous opportunities to drug lords, crime barons and syndicate bosses to launder and shift money around, recruit suitable new members and to issue instructions and programs for criminal action. It presents an ideal place to teach would-be members the niceties of criminal technology, and to afford those in the fold favorable openings for illegal demands, exploitation, and supply of pornography; drugs, stolen credit card details, slander, libel, misrepresentation, hacking, and the spreading of viruses.

Other crimes that have shown predictable increases are those focusing on the exploitation of children. These include making use of chat rooms to lure children away from home for child labor, drug peddling, selling children to brothels, sexual abuse, child pornography; alien smuggling for prostitution; transmission of information about minors; and transfer of obscene material to minors.

The FBI National Computer Crime Squad (NCCS) researches the following major computer crimes:

Intrusions of the Public Switched Network (the telephone company); major computer network intrusions; network integrity violations; privacy violations; industrial espionage, pirated computer software; and other crimes where the computer is a major factor in committing the criminal offence. This listing serves as an operational definition of 'computer crime'.

Intelligence Technology (IT) has spawned the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. We are familiar with the 'good' users of the Net whose numbers increase mathematically as more and more schools, governments and households sign up. From their ranks we notice how some of them tend to get labeled as 'bad' because of poor training, negligent guidance and pranks. Among the 'ugly' we find a new breed of criminal, commonly known as the hacker, but more accurately defined as a socio-econopath.

The socio-econopath starts off by exploring the vast new world he has entered. He learns quickly because he is curious to see and to learn more. Very soon he finds himself entangled in friendships and schemes that smack of adventure and illegal financial gain. Whether he would back off or go ahead depends largely on his upbringing (ethical training, social conscience and respect for others) and the opportunity to get off undetected and scot-free. Like the sociopath and psychopath he acts remorselessly and without consideration for those harmed in the process. The world out there is impersonal and objective: he avidly believes that fortune favors the bold.

The deleterious actions of the socio-econopaths have up till now resulted in matching reactions from the technocrats, governments and the public at large. The building of firewalls in computers, sprucing-up of computer security, and the investigating and prosecuting exploitation of children, are on-going and increasing with rapid strides. One excellent example is rendered by the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) linked to the Criminal Division of the American Department of Justice, which is presently waging an aggressive battle to protect children from computer and mail exploitation. Another issue that is being addressed is 'spamming' or the mass distribution of notices and letters by surface and airmail or by electronic mail. It has been noted that some of these might be used to exploit children. The best way of curbing them is to follow the golden guidelines of the CEOS as set out below.

Citizen Reporting (Report the electronic site address to your Internet Service Provider and pornography found in the surface mail box to Postal Authorities).

Reporting by Electronic Service Providers (Report evidence of child pornography to Law Enforcement Agencies or the Police).

Public Education (Government and the Private Sector should undertake major education campaigns to promote public awareness of technologies and methods available to protect children online. Public education is to be done in a sustainable manner, scheduled to reach families online as well as offline. Recommendations to Government and the Industries are to promote acceptable use policies).

Consumer and responsible adult empowerment (Resources for the independent evaluation of child protection and measures to safeguard them effectively should be allocated as a measure of urgency).

Law Enforcement (Governments should make funds available for research and manpower, enabling members of the force to become computer literate).

The types of transgressors online proliferate at breakneck speed. Governments, law enforcement agencies, and police officers are nowadays geared to stem the tide of new trends that blow like ill winds across the surface of the World Wide Web. No one is sure, and none dares to predict the success or failure rate of criminal justice measures to predict or to control the ebb and flow of global crime. The time has come to exercise effective damage control forcefully and without restraints. Time is of the essence.

At present the general types that can be recognized to pose a threat to Internet Users are portrayed below in a flow chart. Three main types are in evidence: 1) Harmless Hackers that are borderline cases: 2) Malicious Hackers or so-called Socio-econopaths; and 3) Spammers.

Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen is a noted criminologist and the former director of a major South African criminology research institute; he currently serves as a Research Consultant to the University of South Africa where he directs the work of postgraduate students of criminal justice and the science of asset protection and security control. Dr. van der Westhuizen received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Arts with honors, Master of Arts cum laude as well as his Ph.D. degree from the University of South Africa.

Professor van der Westhuizen's professional interests embrace drug abuse, juvenile delin­quency, child abuse, the protection of the lives, limbs, honor, rights and freedom of children, prevention and con­trol of victimization, description and explanation of crime trends, simplification of statistical methods and tech­niques, research and development of criminalistics, methods to identify, detect and adjudicate suspected crimi­nals, and various means to detect, delay, deter and defuse criminal onslaughts at homesteads and business enter­prises. He is a member of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association, the International Police Association, and an Associate Membership of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Professor Dr Jacob van der Westhuizen, Pretoria, South Africa.© 2011

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