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Ahhh, legality and the internet...a debacle indeed.

What are your personal experiences with Internet crime?

I have never been taken advantage of on the internet. However, I have been solicited many times by e-mail to get involved in scams. I remember my freshman year at UMD, there was a group of people (phishers) e-mailing students pretending to be foreign financiers. In exchange for personal information they promised to share with the student money that they stole from foreign African governments. I really hope no one was stupid enough to fall into that internet scam.

What precautions have you taken to shield yourself from phishing, identity theft, etc.?

There are a few things I do to avoid phishers. I never give away personal information on the internet. Also, I never go to unrepeatable websites.

Is it truly unethical that people in a developing country like Nigeria are scamming people from wealthier countries, or does it reflect a Robin Hood sort of ethic?

Absolutely not. This is because robbers in Nigeria are not starting a revolution to change their people’s or class’ situation. Therefore, there is nothing romantic or sacrificial about what they are doing. They are as greedy as they people from whom they steal. This is shown in the ABC News report. The scammers were not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They were stealing from the rich and making themselves rich.

Does something like Wikipedia tweaking or vandalism really count as a crime? If so, does that make Stephen Colbert a criminal?

It depends really. For example, I would say that Wikipedia tweaking is shenanigans, not illegal acts. For Congressman Gutknecht and his attempt to tweak his own entry, I think its is not out of the realm of reason that he would want to do so. While he and other politicians might want a little more grandstanding on their Wikipedia page, they would have a legitimate gripe if they were slandered. When it comes to vandalism on the other hand I believe it must causes fiscal, physical, or mental anguish to be punishable by law. For example, if one were to loose their job over an untrue entry, that should be illegal. Also, if an entry incited an instance of clear and present danger to society I would have to say such an act is illegal.

Stephen Colbert is however not a criminal. This is because his political opinion as to the legitimacy of Wikipedia’s factualness is protect by the Constitution of the United States. Colbert did not slander Wikipedia, he merely pointed out that the online encyclopedia has a flaw.


I agree that most scams are hard to fall for. The Junk Mail that comes in my box screams FAKE to me, but evidently there are just enough Americans out there to finance a lot of Nigerians' lives. I suppose a .05% success rate of 1 million people at $50,000 each is still $50,000 (1 person), not bad for a days work, especially in Nigeria.

I've heard about politicians changing their info on Wikipedia before. I think it's a pathetic attempt on their part. If someone is going to research a politicians background, they are more than likely to check more than one source. Changing their bio on Wikipedia won't protect them much at all.