How is internet crime regulated?

Glenn W. Peterson

The internet is a huge non-tangible thing that has taken over the world. Even though you are using it in California, you may be looking at content that was created half-way around the world in another country. This leads to many questions about how law is maintained on the internet. In the United States, the Department of Justice states that various law enforcement agencies at all levels help to monitor the internet and keep it from total anarchy.

The various agencies include those in international law enforcement, along with federal, state and local agencies in the U.S. There are specific federal agencies involved, such as the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What agency will handle the crime depends on what type of crime it is. For example, if you report a counterfeiting crime, then the Secret Service will handle it. However, if you report harassment, then the FBI would handle it. There is also the Internet Crime Complaint Center that handles cyber crime. It is basically an interface that makes reporting an internet crime easy, and it serves as a central reporting point.

Beyond criminal and civil crimes committed online, there are also a huge number of intellectual property crimes committed daily. For example, using someone else’s music and claiming it as your original work is an intellectual property crime. Intellectual property is protected by copyrights, patents and trademarks. These crimes may be reported to IC3, the ICE or the FBI. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.