File Sharing = Bad...Fraud + Identity Theft = Not So Bad?
The debate over P2P apps is being played out on websites and courtrooms all over the world. Lawmakers are lining up to bring felony penalties to file sharers, while dissenting opinions are coming from surprising places. Unfortunately, the lawmakers are looking to protect profits for the entertainment cartel when internet fraud runs rampant. A recent Gartner report estimates that 7 million U.S. consumers have been victims of identity theft, and arrests have been exceedingly rare.
"There is a serious disconnect between the magnitude of identity theft that innocent consumers experience and the industry's proper recognition of the crime," Litan stated in the report. "Without external pressure from legislators and industry associations, financial services providers may not have sufficient incentive to stem the flow of identity theft crimes."
This disconnect is quite apparent when, on the same day as the Gartner report is released, the FTC announced a 17 year old has been charged with using a fake AOL web page to harvest personal and financial information. His penalty for this scam? $3500 and a ban on any future spamming. Yes, the FTC may have been a bit limited in punishment since the person was a minor, but is this sending the right message to other scam artists and identity thieves? Many victims of identity theft have had extended hassles proving their innocence and trying to get their credit rating restored...while an admitted identity thief gets a slap on the wrist. Subpoenas are flying across the country to ISPs for names of file sharers, some have previously agreed to settlements in the 5 figure range while some lawmakers want them to spend up to 5 years in jail. They may have gotten off easier swiping credit card numbers and charging to their heart's content.