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Ever wonder why very few hackers and online fraudsters have ever been jailed?
Predominantly, law enforcement agencies have faced major problems in trying to track them down. This is partly due to the covering up skills of the hackers themselves, but also attributable to authorities in different countries not exchanging information with each other at the levels and speed required.
In the past, when a suspected hacker has been caught, often there hasn't been applicable law in place to fully prosecute. Hackers have been able to escape with just a good scare and a smack on the wrists as punishment.
What does the future hold for the effective prosecution of cyber-crime?
Nowadays there are many laws in most western countries related to cyber-crime. So I guess it would be fair to assume that we'll see more hackers jailed soon, right? Perhaps not...
There's an interesting case in the moment in the USA you may be aware of. It involves a teenager accused of releasing a virus that infected a few thousand machines. The accused teenager states that it wasn't him that did so, but that other hackers took control of his system and used it to launch their virus attack.
Since the case is still current, I won't offer my own views on whether this kid did or didn't release the virus, but the point is that his defense does have some merit.
In most countries, guilt has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Is there a possibility that someone else hijacked his computer system? There most definitely is - it *could* have happened; i.e. there is reasonable doubt..
This case may well open Pandora's box in future attempted prosecutions if this person is found not guilty purely on this point. The truly guilty may well walk free.
Death and taxes
.. the two things you can be sure of in life - but who should we be paying taxes to? This question is becoming more and more of an issue for people such as ourselves who exist outside of the USA, but generate income from business conducted online inside the US.
In Australia, our own government taxes us (substantially) for any income we generate. Like many other countries, they also force us to be tax collectors.
To add insult to injury, there's currently whispers throughout the industry that businesses like us may have to register for a US Tax Identification Number and be subject to taxes there as well.
The mind boggles.
Even more ridiculous is that to avoid this, it's been suggested that all we have to do is to move our sites to a server outside the USA.
It's all got to do with the interpretation of "business presence". Some people (and IRS agents) are stating that even having a shared hosting account in the US is considered as us legally having a business presence there. OK, so we move hosting - but our domain name, like so many millions of other .com, .net and .org names is administered in the USA too.
According to a discussion document from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), entitled "Application of the Permanent Establishment Definition in E-Commerce" released in December 2000 we don't fit this "established business presence" crud simply by hosting there.
The OECD, to which Australia, the USA, the UK and many other countries are member of, formulates policies on international trade and investment. The OECD develops accords which must then be adopted by a consensus of the member countries.
Now, I don't mind paying income taxes - I really don't even care which government I pay them to, they are all much of a muchness in this globalized society - but I'll only pay them once and to one country only.
So is there any truth to all this? I'm still not sure and I'm continuing my research. I mention this to alert you all that regardless of which country you're based in, it's worthwhile checking into as the EU also has their greedy little eyes on extracting income from web site operators, large and small, globally.
Let's hope sanity prevails, and if it doesn't look as though it will - it's time to take action. Otherwise we could all end up paying taxes of some kind to various governments of many countries or be bogged down in paperwork relating to tax treaties. This kind of crap is the stuff that should be reserved for large multi-nationals, not cottage industry.
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That's it for this issue. Thanks for taking the time to read the ezine, I hope that you are finding the information of value.
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In Loving Memory - Mignon Ann Bloch
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