Electronics Become Tools of Criminals

Friday, May 2nd 2008, 10:18 pm
By: News On 6

My recent story on cell phone spying was an eye opener even for me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you can go online, pay 400 bucks and begin listening to people's private conversations, their phone calls and read their text messages. But, I was pretty surprised.

Police say technology is playing a role in more and more crimes and we're probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

I heard from a mother whose young son is getting threatening text messages from classmates. I talked to a teenage girl who says other girls at school are posting terrible lies about her online. I talked to a man who says his ex is making it impossible for him to have a normal life and move on, because she's obsessed with always knowing where he is and who he's with.

When people ask me what they can do to stop some of this, my answer is to go low-tech. If you don't have a cell phone that hooks up to the internet, no one can put spyware on it. If you don't have a cell phone at all, you can't receive threatening texts. Of course, people can't imagine giving up their high tech lives, even if it would mean a life of peace.

Bullies have always been bad enough, but, they had to confront you face to face. Stalkers were always terrifying, but they had to show up at your job or home to harass you. Technology just gives all these people a way to carry out their terrible deeds, by staying well away from you and gives them anonymity. Nothing makes people braver than realizing they can't be seen.

While these crimes can be very hard to prove, police are taking them seriously and are actually making a lot of cases. The OK Computer Crimes Act covers a pretty broad range of crimes committed by or on electronic gadgetry.

The best advice I can give you until the time arrives when they can catch and stop all these cyber threats, is to keep records, good ones.

Keep text messages, emails and voicemails. Keep a log of when and how often the threats come in and file reports. Even if officers can't do something right then, it helps them build a case, show a pattern of behavior. It's the best and only legal way to fight back.

If you suspect your cell phone is being used as "bug" have it set to the factory specs, or get a new one or at least take the battery off when you're not using, but, having conversations you want to keep private.

Clearly, privacy is shrinking every day and protecting it is going to get harder and harder as we move into the future.