Cyber Neighborhood Watch Needed to Combat Online Crime

August 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

iKeepSafe, a site dedicated to keeping children safe online and promoting online ethics through education, recently posted an article on the need for an cyber neighborhood watch. The basic idea is that in a neighborhood watch, members of the community look out for one another and notify the police when they see suspicious activity. As well, students at school can be bystanders to bullying or abuse, and they can report the behavior to parents and teachers; however, no such bystander community exists online. That is, when people see questionable content posted online in a blog or on a social media profile, they just ignore it, and don’t direct police to the site.

For example, George Sodini, the shooter in the recent gym attack, posted disturbing messages and rants on his blog for the last nine months. He even alluded to a project he was working on that involved loaded guns. Perhaps, if police had been alerted to the content on Sodini’s blog sooner, this tragedy may have been averted. Of course, alerting police to violent rants on a blog may not prevent a criminal from carrying out his or her plans (and clearly, a person must commit a crime in order to be arrested for anything), but if police knew ahead of time, they may have been able to talk to the person or confront him or her before an attack could be carried out.

iKeepSafe advocates an increased public awareness online and a willingness of more people to watch out for one another by having a cyber neighborhood watch mentality while online, reporting suspicious activity when confronted with it.


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