Torrent Madness: UK Cybercrime Official Argues That File Sharing Is A Gateway Drug To Crime

Perhaps it’s time to make an update to Reefer Madness, entitled Torrent Madness. A totally out of touch and clueless — but powerful — UK official, Andy Archibald, who somehow is the deputy director of the National Cyber Crime Unit at the National Crime Agency, is going around spouting nonsense about how file sharing is some sort of “gateway” into more crimes for young people today (found via Ars Technica):

“If you think about the illegal downloading of music, of videos and DVDs, I think that practice is more common than we might imagine within the youth of today.

“That’s criminality.

“It’s almost become acceptable.

“That’s the first stages, I believe, of a gateway into the dark side.”

Considering how many people engage in file sharing, if it actually were a “gateway” into further criminal activity, you’d think we’d be in the midst of an incredible crime wave. And yet, here are the stats straight from the UK government: Obviously, correlation is not causation and yada yada, but doesn’t that look like crime rates peaked just as file sharing really started taking off? If it were truly acting as a gateway to more crime, wouldn’t that be showing up in the data somewhere?

But, no, good old Andy Archibald isn’t troubled by the data. He knows that these evil hacker types are all showing up because of that no good file sharing:

“There are many of our young people, and not only young people, who are becoming highly skilled and capable in a digital environment,” he said.

“It’s important that they put those skills to good use and are not tempted to become involved, unwittingly in cyber criminality.

“They are members of forums and are exchanging ideas in a marketplace that criminals are looking (at).

“They are looking for people with technical skills who can compliment their criminal business.

“They are looking to recruit those people.

“They try to induce and manipulate them.”

Yup. We’ve moved past the “child predators are grooming your kids” moral panic, into the “evil cybercriminals are grooming those file sharers” moral panic.

And, of course, it’s all happening in that scary, scary place known as the “dark web” (boo!)

“When I joined policing … you had drug trafficking, organised immigration crime, firearms trafficking, you knew where to go to sell stolen property, you knew where to go to hire a hit man, frankly.

“Actually, we could control that and we managed that by covert policing, overt policing and an infrastructure around it.

“All of those things I’ve just described are now happening in a digital environment in what is loosely termed the dark web.

“On the dark web we have criminals operating there, trading guns, trading drugs.

“That is where the illegal commodities are being traded.”

But, he insists, the police don’t want mass surveillance. They want “A narrative… that reassures the public.” Funny, then, that it appears most of his speech was a bunch of nonsense designed to scare the public, huh?

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