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The Law of the Internet

I'd say I really didn't have much personal experience with the type of online crime discussed in the readings until I enrolled as a student and got my U of M account. Since then, I've had a number of scam emails of both the phishing and 419 variety. So far though, the worst any of those emails has done is slightly confuse me when I first recieved them. I quickly learned to recognize them, and now they're usually deleted right away or reported as spam when I do get them. All of them are easy to recognize and avoid since I never associated my school email with any websites requiring an account (besides Facebook), I don't even have a Paypal account, and the 419 scams are usually poorly written descriptions of rich dead relatives I know I don't have in Nigeria. If I really did inherit all that money every time my "Uncle Richard Carl" died (apparently they don't even know the difference between first and last names either), I'd probably be able to drop out of school and retire right now. It does surprise me that I get any of these emails since it seems like a big public institution like the University of Minnesota would be able to track and block more of these, but I know the tech department has posted warnings about them in the past, which does help me.

Although the living conditions in Nigeria as shown in the ABC News video definitely makes the people living there look underprivledged compared to our own in America (even the mansion depicted looks like something out of the slums), I still think what the 419 scammers are doing is unethical and illegal. The way those scams are run is maliciously misleading and against both Nigerian and American law. I wouldn't classify it as a "Robin Hood" ethic either since the money scammer collect goes directly to their own benefit. If they were truly selfless, they would be sharing that money with the rest of the Nigerian community. Yes, it's terrible that they're forced to live in those conditions, but there must be more ethical ways to get a leg up.

Wikipedia vandalism on the other hand, while an obvious nuisance, is relatively harmless compared to the scamming and identity theft going on everyday on the internet. The site specifically exists for users to edit, so it needs to have its own guidelines for what is acceptable and inacceptable use of its services. Article vandalism is a breach of the rules for sure and should be grounds for limitations on the article and banning of the users involved. It's poor taste, but not poor ethics. Only if the site is not able to function, such as a vandalism of the site itself by hackers, would this kind of offense be serious enough to be considered a crime.