Category: Cybercrime

Reminder: Event – Global Cybercrime Threat – Domestic to Int’l Cyber Investigation

Please join the Criminal Justice Institute, Criminal Justice Society, and Technology Encryption & Cyber Law Society on Wednesday, September 28 at 4:00 – 6:00 PM in Room OG-01 (Ottinger Building, Ground Level) for an event titled The Global Cybercrime Threat: And How One Successful Criminal Prosecution Brought Few International Cybercriminals to Justice. Come and engage with John Bandler, Esq., Pace Law Class of 2002 alumni, as he discusses a “groundbreaking investigation that started with a report of credit card fraud and eventually uncovered the global cybercrime industry with participants from New York and California to Ukraine and Russia.”

See the details of the event here.

Event: Global Cybercrime Threat – Domestic to International Cyber Investigation

Please join the Criminal Justice Institute, Criminal Justice Society, and Technology Encryption & Cyber Law Society on Wednesday, September 28 at 4:00 – 6:00 PM in Room OG-01 (Ottinger Building, Ground Level) for an event titled The Global Cybercrime Threat: And How One Successful Criminal Prosecution Brought Few International Cybercriminals to Justice. Come and engage with John Bandler, Esq., Pace Law Class of 2002 alumni, as he discusses a “groundbreaking investigation that started with a report of credit card fraud and eventually uncovered the global cybercrime industry with participants from New York and California to Ukraine and Russia.”

See the details of the event here.

NY Court of Appeals Holds Unconstitutional a Law Prohibiting Cyberbullying

POST WRITTEN BY: Prof. Peter Widulski, Assistant Director of the First Year Legal Skills Program and the Coach of International Criminal Moot Court Team at Pace Law School.

The internet’s opportunities for communication can be, and in most cases are, beneficial. But some persons may maliciously utilize such opportunities to expose others to embarrassment, and the harm inflicted can be extremely damaging, especially when such communications expose minors to severe embarrassment relating to sexual matters. Such communications have come to be termed “cyber-bullying.”

With instances of cyber-bullying increasing, public authorities have responded with varying measures, including criminalization, in an effort to curb such communications. But because the communications at issue are speech, their restriction must survive constitutional review under the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

New York State has a prior history of protecting minors against the damaging effects of sexual communications. In New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S.747 (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld, against a Free Speech challenge, a New York statute prohibiting persons from knowingly promoting a sexual performance by a child under the age of 16 by distributing material which depicted such a performance (reversing a decision of the N.Y. Court of Appeals).

On July 1, 2014, by a 5-2 vote the N.Y. Court of Appeals struck down as violating the First Amendment a law against cyber-bullying enacted by the Albany County legislature. On appeal, the County conceded that there was wording in the law that was constitutionally overbroad, but argued that, pursuant to accepted severability practice utilized in constitutional interpretation, the Court could sever the offending words and leave in place the remaining portions of the law as constitutionally valid and thus affirm the misdemeanor conviction of an Albany County high-school student who anonymously posted on Facebook photographs and detailed information about the alleged sexual practices and predilections of his classmates.

Thus, the key issue on appeal was the application of proper judicial employment of the severability doctrine, which allows a court to excise unconstitutional elements of a law in order to preserve constitutionally valid elements that may sustain conviction for the crime charged. While the Court majority acknowledged that some elements of the law’s text could be appropriately severed, other portions could not, without leaving in place other issues potentially raising further First Amendment problems.

Judge Robert Smith, in a dissenting opinion joined by Judge Pigott, stated that, with application of Albany County’s concessions for excision, the law passed constitutional muster. On Judge Smith’s reading of the applicable precedents, the defendant’s “speech designed to inflict serious emotional injury is protected only” if the defendant’s Facebook posting was “directed at a matter of public concern,” which was clearly not present in the case before the Court.


5 Ways Technology Boosts Crime-Fighting

POST WRITTEN BY: Daphne Holmes*

Technology helps law enforcement agencies and justice personnel stay one step ahead of criminals, furnishing new ways to detect and prevent crimes, as well as helping prosecutors convict offenders. And since emerging technology is available on both sides of justice, the cat-and-mouse game between perpetrators and police is never-ending, requiring continual adjustments from law enforcement agencies.

The good news for public safety is that crime rates have generally decreased over the past two decades, due in part to advancements in crime detection and deterrent technology. Since effective policing leans heavily on the rapid sharing of sensitive crime-related data; the recent explosion in information technology is a positive development for law enforcement agencies. Identification technology, social media, and mobile capabilities also enhance public safety, enabling justice staff to do their business more efficiently and respond to unfolding investigations in real-time.

While technology poses challenges for law enforcement agencies, which continually strive to keep up with technology-based criminal enterprises; it does more good than harm in the fight against crime. Tech advancements in law enforcement include the following capabilities, which illustrate how quickly things change alongside technology.

Sharing Information
Law enforcement agencies are spread throughout a national criminal justice system that involves, regional, state, and local authorities, each administering their policing efforts independently. Too often in the past, lack of access to timely information prevented various agencies from coordinating their efforts adequately. Advances in the way agencies share information and use criminal identification systems have led to tighter connections between independent law enforcement organizations and universal enforcement standards across jurisdictions. Sharing information about offenders also has a positive preventative impact, helping keep guns out of the hand of dangerous criminals and barring offenders from certain types of employment.

Security and Surveillance Upgrades
Property crimes continue to decrease statistically, so security and video surveillance upgrades have improved public safety dramatically. Camera technology, for example, produces modern models with higher image quality than past versions, and the size of high-quality cameras has also diminished, allowing them to be concealed for covert surveillance. Face-recognition technology is particularly rewarding, enabling law enforcement officials to literally pick faces from crowds.  In fact, the technology is so accurate as to create privacy-rights controversies among those who feel it is too intrusive.

Social Media
Though it is a social trend as much as it is a technological breakthrough, social media use nonetheless furnishes law enforcement advantages for agencies that use the technology effectively. For example, criminals leave trails using social media platforms, so justice agencies turn to Facebook, Twitter and other channels for vital clues and insight into criminal behavior. The technology also enables officers to distribute information directly to concerned citizens, informing them of unfolding crimes and dangerous developments.

Social media links law enforcement directly to the public at large, so it is a great tool for spreading descriptions, videos and other information about criminals. Communicating in real-time closes the crucial gap between the point at which crimes occur and when investigations begin, enabling citizens to respond with timely information.

Crime Mapping Technology
Modern computing power speeds up data analysis and enables law enforcement to track crime trends geographically. What was once accomplished through countless man-hours pouring over data is now a matter of a few mouse clicks. Crime mapping enables agencies to zero-in on problem areas, stepping-up enforcement efforts and assisting in bringing in fugitives. Like highly sophisticated “pin-maps” highlighting crime location, mapping and geographic profiling give enforcement officers clear snapshots of crime trends.

Mobile Technology
Mobile technology furnishes an electronic trail of texts, emails, calls and GPS location information that law enforcement uses to solve cases. Smartphones are so widespread the contact information and other data they contain give officers a starting point for their investigations, which often unfold in arrests directly related to information gleaned from mobile devices and usage. Using advanced digital forensics technology, investigators find links between suspects and their crimes, which might go unnoticed without mobile connections. In addition to investigative benefits, mobile technology speeds communication between officers, agencies and citizens.

Technology will never replace solid investigative work, but modern advances assist law enforcement efforts to stay ahead of criminals. Mobile technology, social media, and rapid access to information contribute to better enforcement and prevention. And crime-mapping and video surveillance breakthroughs also increase public safety, enabling justice agencies to direct resources to where they are needed most.

*Daphne Holmes is a writer from She can be reached at

Opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the position of the Pace Criminal Justice Center or its Board of Advisors.  

Security and Privacy for Every Attorney

BY: Steven Lapkoff

Data security has become an important issue for the legal world. Whether you are a tech-savvy law student or a veteran attorney without much experience online, now is a good time to think about the safety of your files and your clients’ information. In the free-for-all of the Internet, even privileged attorney-client communications are not always respected as such (as this article from The Guardian on the GCHQ – the UK’s equivalent of the NSA – makes clear).

These dangers shift the burden of responsibility to the individual attorney to ensure that, short of keeping locked stacks of paper files and certified letters, client information remains confidential.

Nearly once a week since the start of the summer, news headlines have been disclosing in increasing detail the efforts of the National Security Administration to access personal communications (email, instant messaging, and cloud-based data) of nearly every Internet user. Most recently, a Washington Post article revealed that not even your contact list is safe.

This has understandably set off a round of security-related concern in the IT world, with even Google scrambling to encrypt data stored on the popular Google Drive service, as companies fear the possible legal ramifications of allowing their users’ data to be accessed. Some of these questions have been discussed in an excellent article in the New York Law Journal, by Richard Raysman and Peter Brown.

Recently, a small change to Comment 8 of the ABA’s Model Rule 1.1 “serve[s] as a reminder to lawyers that they should remain aware of technology, including the benefits and risks associated with it, as part of a lawyer’s general ethical duty to remain competent.” See this recent article from Inside Counsel for a thorough discussion of the full implications of such an emphasis.

This change strengthens the confidentiality requirements of Model Rule 1.6, whose comments also include language regarding “reasonable efforts to prevent the access or disclosure” (see Comment 18 and 19), but do not specifically mention encryption. Perhaps in light of the recent disclosures, it will be an issue specifically addressed in the future.

So, where to start out if talk of bits and bytes is foreign to you? The ABA has a useful information page about many different methods of securing your information and email with encryption. However, there’s no need to spend a lot of money (or sometimes any at all) to get into the basics of staying safe.

First, I recommend losing the memory stick. Many of us have gone through several of the key-sized devices, either dropping them from a backpack or leaving them in a library. Instead, look at one of the many “cloud”-based services, such as DropBox, that allow you to access your files anywhere there is an internet connection. The cloud-based services have recently gotten a bad rap for their security, so I use a nifty free app called SafeMonk as an extra layer of encryption for everything I put into DropBox.

Second, if you have an email to a client that contains particularly sensitive information, think about encrypting your email. If you are a Gmail user, SecureGmail is a free ad-on that brings encryption seamlessly into your email composition. There are (more complicated) options for Outlook as well.

Finally, if you have large files on a hard drive, TrueCrypt is a free, open-source software that can help you get started.

Using encryption is certainly not required to represent client’s effectively, but “smart lawyers will realize that obtaining technological proficiency directly will not only help them satisfy the mandate of Model Rule 1.1, but also will empower them to serve as stronger advocates on behalf of their clients and result in competitive advantages.” (Inside Counsel).