|Three Intriguing Cyber-Offender Questions|
|By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist|
This information collection is so a website or blog writer like myself can get an idea of what folks might be interested in or what drives them to the website. It provides us input into what interests our customers or readers. Let me give you an example. Someone does an Internet search on a term, “cigars,” and they are provided a websites listing of sites containing that word or term. From that listing they click on a particular website. Depending upon the tools used the website or blog will be provided information on the search terms used to get to a particular website. So if someone got to the Three C’s with the search term “cigars” I would likely know about it (no it hasn’t happen yet). I have had some interesting search terms for the Three C’s as well as my personal site, which I am going share and discuss, with a non-lawyer’s expertise (I am not offering legal advice to anyone). Here are the more intriguing ones thus far:
How Does Probation Monitor Computer Activity?
It depends on the agency. Some do computer searches or get law enforcement assistance to do them. Others install monitoring software. Still others rely solely on traditional techniques, such as surprise home visits. Some use polygraphs, specifically for sex offenders. Still others do online investigations and go check social networking sites to see what their offenders are doing online. I should note that in the United Kingdom law enforcement takes a central role in enforcing sexual offences prevention orders. Too many agencies I am sadden to say, ignore cyber-risk completely. The best practice is to employ multiple techniques.
Can Sex Offenders Use or Access Social Networking Sites (SNS)?
This one also comes under the heading of ”What is Facebook’s Policy on Sex Offenders?” The answer is it depends. Some states have statutes that make it illegal for sex offenders, regardless of being under correctional supervision, from accessing these sites. Currently, there is a lot of legal action going on attacking these criminal statutes. We will see how it turns out.
Additionally, it may be a specific condition of supervision that a sex offender not access a social networking site. This would mean if an offender got on a SNS without permission their supervision could be revoked.
Finally, independent of criminal statutes or supervision conditions, many SNS are banning sex offenders from using their sites. Facebook’s User Policy reflects: “You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.” However, Facebook is no longer alone in making sex offenders unwelcome. Recently three dating sites, Match.com, eHarmony and Spark Networks signed a joint business principle statement agreeing to check subscribers against national sex offender registries. To my knowledge there have been no cases thus far decided that have ruled that a SNS can’t bar sex offenders from their site. In summary, check the jurisdiction’s legal statutes/court decisions; correction supervision conditions; and the user agreement of the particular SNS.
Can Probation Officers Hack Your Phone?
My, are we a bit paranoid or what? I am assuming “hack” means access a mobile phone, either remotely or through breaking in without a password. The answer is not without legal authorization, which translates into a court order, warrant and/or condition, subject to your jurisdictions legal requirements. A probation officer could search a mobile phone with your consent or with specific legal authorization, supported with “reasonable suspicion” that you have broken your conditions. They could also search under some circumstances, such as a specific condition authorizing “random searches.” They could may also search the phone pursuant to an arrest.
Now if you mean “hack” as remotely access the phone, without your knowledge, that would likely require a specific order or warrant. Additionally, I would have a tough time naming many probation officer that have the technical ability and/or equipment to accomplish this task. The exception would be to install monitoring software on the mobile phone. That is relatively easy, requiring only access to the phone. However, there has to be some legal authorization behind such activity. Without legal authorization it could be a violation of law. It simply is not a routine supervision activity.
There is one conclusion that might be drawn from these collective search terms. What you ask? Well, it seems I might be an information source for the offender population. It is kind of interesting that offenders are doing research on what officers are doing in cyber-risk management. I wonder what else they are doing Internet searches on, maybe how to defeat urine screenings or polygraph examinations? Maybe with more offenders asking questions, I might get a few more comments from probation and parole officers. Hopefully, they aren’t “what the heck are you telling my offenders?” Until then I left a cigar lit somewhere. Be safe out there!
Art Bowker is the author of The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections: Managing Offender Risk in the 21st Century
He has over 26 years experience in both law enforcement and corrections at the state and federal level. In 2008, Art was the International President of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA). This professional non-profit organization is the largest of its kind devoted to the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of crimes involving advanced technologies (htcia.org). Art is also member of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and is a member of their Technology Committee, He has a Master of Corrections degree from Kent State University. Follow Art on Twitter.com at: (http://twitter.com/Computerpo)
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