|Part 1: Bowker’s 2012 Predictions Revisited|
|By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist|
Last year about this time I gave some predictions based upon some things that were happening in 2011. I discussed mobile phones in prison, online drug sales, gambling, victimization as possible trends in 2012. Well, how close I was to the mark on these issues a year later? I am going to tease you a bit in this first of a two part examination of how I did and my predictions for the coming year. Lets start with mobile phones being a problem in prisons. At the time I wrote my 2012 comments, the FCC was I believe about a year into discussing promising solutions for blocking mobile phones in prison. One such solution was technology based, called, “contraband cell phone capture.” Jamie Barnett of the FCC described it as: …
“designed to capture cell phones calls inside the prison, analyze whether the calls are from legitimate devices or not, and prevent completion of calls from unauthorized cell phones, in effect making those cell phones useless to inmates.”
That was rolled out at the start of 2011, a full year before my comments were made about mobile phone problem in prison. So the question is what occurred in 2012? Did these technology solutions take hold, eliminating the mobile phone prison problem as an issue in 2012? Well, I don’t recall any high profile inmates like Charlie Manson being caught with a phone in 2012, which is a good thing. In October of 2012, CA unveiled its plan, which seems to be based on the technology approach noted above. Wow, CA implements its plan almost three years after FCC highlighted the technology. Interesting that the article that discusses the new CA plan referenced that the same technology was reportedly unsuccessful in MS. If I had to guess I would say states are having trouble paying for this new solution.
It sounds like Georgia doesn’t have such a system. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on January 1, 2013, that in one Georgia facility mobile phones were being used to export money of inmates family members. Basically, it worked like this. The inmate’s family would get a text message, plus picture of their family member from inside the facility from other inmates. The message was pay up or your loved one is going to get beat up or killed. This reportedly happened to three different families. GA prison officials could not substantiate these cases, but noted that cell phones were a continuing problem in their facility. Sounds like for some reason (maybe financial), this issue seems to be getting addressed at the speed of a glacier. (And yes I saw the report of Brazilian prisoners using a cat try to smuggle, cell phones, saws/drills, a headset, a memory card, cell phone batteries and a mobile phone charger into the facility. Interesting world we live in ain’t it!)
One thing that was interesting about prisoner communications, legitimate that is, was the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making, dated December 28, 2012. The FCC is looking at reducing the cost for prison telephone calls. Basically, they are asking for comment about eliminating the per call charge and capping the per minute charge at between $.20 to $.25. One concern is this will negatively effect the telephone money maker for some prisons, who are suffering through trying financial times. We can only wonder if reducing the cost for these calls might make some contraband mobile phones less appealing. Clearly, this issue is not resolved and is a continuing problem for prisons.
Last year I discussed the illegal or questionable trends of online drugs and guns sales with an observation about the easy of purchasing both online. I specifically noted the number of gun sales online was increasing and doubted there would be any real legislative movement to curb or stop this as it was an election year. Well at least on the drug front there was some good needs. On October 4, 2012, Reuters reported the FDA, working with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies shutdown over 18,000 illegal pharmacy websites and seized 3.7 million doses of counterfeit medicines worth an estimated $10.5 million.” So there clearly is an enforcement action, at least regarding online illegal drug sales. What about guns? Well, unfortunately, one of the all too many mass murder cases (Colorado movie theater massacre) involved the suspected killer’s online purchase of over 6,000 rounds of ammunition. Seems like it should be a lot harder to purchase guns and drugs online than it is. We will see if next year I can report a new law or two on this disturbing trend.
Okay, what about online gambling, how were my predictions? Anyone up for a bet? Well, I was in a word, WRONG. There I said it. I was WRONG. I noted last year that states would, “rush ahead, without a lot of study on the possible negative effects of online gambling.” To date, only two states, Nevada and Delaware passed online gambling bills, with New Jersey posed to be the third state. In retrospect that is not a “rush”. We will see what happens in 2013.
What about the remainder of my 2012 predictions, such as sex offender Internet restrictions? How did I do on reading my cigar smoke in the future’s mist? What do I see in the future of my cigar cloud? Stay tuned and I will fill you in in my next post. Speaking of cigars, where is that one I just lit?
Mr. Bowker has over 27 years’ experience in law enforcement/corrections and is recognized as an expert in managing cyber-risk in offender populations. In addition to co-writing Investigating Internet Crimes, 1st Edition: An Introduction to Solving Crimes in Cyberspace, (Syngress, November 2013) he is also the author of The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections: Managing Offender Risk in the 21st Century. In 2013, Mr. Bowker received the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Sam Houston State University Award for his writing contributions to promote awareness of cybercrime and tools for helping the community corrections field combat computer crime.
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