Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Identity Thieves are Now Becoming Scapegoats

It is a sign that something is becoming mainstream when identity thieves start taking the blame for committing an offense probably not worth their time or effort.

Recently a woman was sued by and went to trail against the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and lost. The RIAA is the trade group turned watchdog group whose members are recoding artists. They are the group that is fighting illegal P2P (peer 2 peer) downloading among mainly younger computer users.

The judgment came in the form of a fine of over $250,000. She was offered an out of court settlement and turned it down. Most if not all individuals offered this option are accepting it since they are liable for much more that the industry is requesting. They (RIAA) are really getting a pittance compared to the industry losses and the legal costs of suing young individuals is surely more then they are getting in return. But they are setting a great example. Until now.

This woman refused to settle because she is claiming an identity thief stole her web identity to file share on P2P. Is this idea original, probably not. There have likely been many users claiming they didn’t do. They claim it was someone else using their computer, hijacked their account etc. But I believe it is the first time it has been used in court when defending a suit filed by the RIAA. Is this defense possible? Anything is possible, but the court did not buy it and ruled against her.

Is this realistic? With so much to gain financially doing other misdeeds, would identity thieves go to this length to file share a few songs? Put in another light, if you are an identity thief, you obviously have little regard for the law, so worrying about file sharing, not even on the bottom of any list. But because the thieves are becoming so commonplace, the public has now decided that they could be a good scapegoat. And why not, since there are plenty of them lurking in every corner of the planet.

In retrospect, the RIAA should spend some of that recovered money educating parents on how identity thieves really use P2P networks to actually steal identities. Maybe if they got the attention of more adults they would have a much better army of soldiers to combat their problem of lost revenue, while at the same time educating individuals, college students and moms and dads, of the other unseen peril of illegal downloading, identity theft.