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perspective

Monitoring cyberspace will help reduce crime rate


A nurse in Hamamatsu, Japan, was abducted in her car by two men last month. Her body was later found in the mountains.

The two men arrested on suspicion of illegally confining the woman were not acquainted with her. Both have given statements claiming they “do not know” how the woman died or about the abandonment of her body. Meanwhile, the body of a man who allegedly ordered the woman’s abduction has been found. It appears he committed suicide.
The three men met through an online bulletin board. The man who committed suicide allegedly wrote a post offering a chance to make money, and the two other men apparently responded to this offer. Strangers became connected over the Internet and got involved in a brutal crime. This action, which was completely and utterly indiscriminate, is chilling. The death of the man thought to be the ringleader leaves elements of this case, such as the motive, wrapped in mystery. Although the investigation now faces an uphill battle, the police should do everything possible to unravel the truth.
In an earlier incident, in 2007, three men who became acquainted through an underground website murdered a woman on her way home in Nagoya. The website was awash with information directly linked to crimes. After this incident, many underground websites that had become hotbeds of crime were shut down. The alleged perpetrators in the Hamamatsu nurse case used a regular online bulletin board. The bulletin board featured posts, sorted by region, on a wide array of topics ranging from job offers to good eating guides to sport information.
The fact that a bulletin board anyone could easily use was exploited to solicit unlawful behaviour cannot be shrugged off. It is striking that there have been cases involving artful solicitation of participation by using phrases such as “earn good money” or “receive payment on the same day”, but no mention is made of what is involved.
It is vital to stem any growth in the number of people involved in crime. Users of such websites must not let themselves get taken in by smooth talk and easily go along with an invitation to do something.
Last year, about 600,000 tips were provided to organisations that the National Police Agency has entrusted with monitoring posts and other messages on the Internet. Analysis of this information revealed about 27,000 posts featured highly illegal content such as obscene images. Other posts offered to undertake crimes and incited people to commit suicide.
Underground websites, which are called the “dark web” because they are encrypted and anonymised so their content cannot be displayed through regular Internet searches, show signs of expanding. Illicit drugs, weapons and even personal data are bought and sold on these websites, but getting a clear picture of the actual situation is difficult.
Although police are devoting considerable resources to cyber patrols, there is a massive amount of content to be checked. The police should use artificial intelligence and other methods to strengthen their monitoring functions and unmask as many illegal posts and activities as possible. They should steadily press ahead with this task.

Published : June 24, 2018

By : Yomiuri Shimbun ASIA NEWS NETWORK