The New York Times Book Review - Robert Kolker
[Anderson's] storytelling is brisk and lucid, often pithy but never glib…Even familiar tales contain surprises and fresh insights.
Anderson, a senior editor at Ars Technica, shows how sophisticated criminals have moved much of their business from the physical world to the amorphous, anonymous, but far-from-lawless realm of ones and zeros. You wouldn’t think software piracy could lead to international manhunts, high-stakes trials, and sieges of extravagant compounds, but that—and more—is all here: in nine loosely linked chapters, Anderson takes readers into the Wild West of the digital world, examining famous offenses to understand the structural challenges of governing the Internet and the newest policing methods used to sniff out online crime. Anonymity afforded by the Internet has allowed for violations big and small, from vitriolic and bigoted e-mails to massive online drug markets and file-sharing networks that have eroded copyright status and created nesting grounds for child pornography rings and sex trafficking. Anderson’s takes on landmark digital cases (like the RIAA’s wave of infringement lawsuits) are valuable, colorfully drawn primers—but traces of a thematic center unravel early in the book. Anderson meticulously tracks the evolution of Internet policing and asks some glancing questions about the future of civil liberties, but in the end he shies away from a more searching, committed conclusion. Agent: Piers Blofeld, Sheil Land Associates Ltd. (U.K.). (Aug.)
“Nate Anderson shows where the Internet's flourishing underworld meets international law enforcement. From stories of good guys, bad guys, and people that can't be pigeonholed, Nate gives the background to tomorrow's headlines.”
“A brisk, eminently readable, and important history of the relationship between law, law enforcement, and the net, and as you'd expect, it's excellent. Anderson's reporting career has exposed him to innumerable cases of fascinating and horrifying networked shenanigans, and he cherry-picks the most interesting stories to tell, and tells them well, and uses each one to paint a broader picture of how the attempt to impose law and lawfulness on the Internet has unfolded at every turn.”
Hiawatha Bray - The Boston Globe
“Sprightly and entertaining.”
“As soon as the Internet turned mainstream, a new breed of criminal appeared. The police, who were trained on Agatha Christie novels, took about a decade to catch up. This entertaining and informative book tells their story.”
New York Times Book Review
“A brisk and lucid look at high-tech law enforcement.”
A nuanced study of crime on the Internet and how government and law enforcement agencies have been tackling it. Ars Technica senior editor Anderson seems somewhat sympathetic to the notion of the Internet's borderless, innovative exceptionalism. But unlike advocates of unfettered creative chaos and online liberty, the author argues that since the Internet went global in the 1990s, it has been followed by a rise in online criminal activities harmful to life, limb and property in the "real" world. These problems include offshore havens, child pornography, cyberpeeping and extortion, spambotting and identity theft, all of which have made policing it not only necessary, but inevitable. Rather than create new entities to handle these crimes, governments have relied on boots already on the ground--local police forces, the Federal Trade Comission, the FBI, even Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has pursued overseas violators of American copyright protections with unusual--sometimes indiscriminate--aggressiveness. Anderson isn't altogether impressed with the results. While scoring some impressive arrests and convictions of the creators and consumers of child pornography and of a creepy peeper named Luis Mijangos, law enforcement and the courts have had more difficulty going after spammers, pirates and other online crooks. In some cases, they have breeched privacy as brazenly as Mijangos, using remote access tools to spy on "owners" of stolen laptops, for example, without troubling themselves with obtaining court-issued warrants. Spammers and other fraudsters have proven elusive in the courts; on the other hand, penalties handed down by juries to copyright violators, like single mom and Kazaa user Jammie Thomas, have been thrown out by judges for being obscenely excessive. Unfortunately, there are few simple solutions on the horizon. "[W]e need the Internet police," Anderson writes, "but we need to keep an eye on them--and on their tools." A thought-provoking primer on the state of cybercrime.