Internet police catching up with outlaws

One of the great claims about the internet has always been that it doesn’t respect borders. John Perry Barlow, in his “declaration of cyberspace independence” – written way back in 1996 – claimed that national governments couldn’t hold sway against the determined electrons of cyberspace: “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours,” he wrote.And then we have a week like this, in which police forces acting for those boring nation-based governments shut down some spammers allegedly responsible for generating one-third of all the world’s spam, and then a scammers’ website where criminals traded stolen bank and card details.Sounds like a bit of a win there for the nation state. Though to be fair, Barlow was writing a long time before the spammers and scammers had really discovered the net, and trying to make a point about free speech.What’s also interesting is that the geeks’ favoured solutions – technological ones – really didn’t work. Bill Gates famously pronounced that spam would be solved, and put Microsoft’s brightest (well, I hope they were the brightest: how would you feel if you were drafted into it, looked around and realised everyone else on the antispam team was an also-ran?) into coming up with ways to beat it through technical fixes such as SPF.Didn’t work. Spam kept growing.

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