terrorism, says U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the Department of
Justice is going to
do something about it.
“While we celebrate the positive contributions of
technology, we can't forget that there's a dark side to almost every innovation,”
said Mukasey at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. “Every new technology
we create can be abused – whether it's a common identity thief looking for a
new way to steal your bank account information, or an international terrorist
looking to advance a murderous plot.”
The Justice Department is committed to protecting the USA’s
valuable intellectual property rights, said Mukasey, who promoted Deputy
Attorney General and department official “number two” Mark Filip to the head of
its IP Task Force, which is stepping up efforts in worldwide collaboration.
“International borders pose little hindrance to criminals,
so we’ve been working to make sure those borders don’t pose an obstacle to
effective enforcement,” he said.
Originally the domain of organized crime, terrorists are
finding piracy – with its supposedly low level of risk – to be a tempting way
to finance other, less aboveboard activities. “A primary goal of our IP
enforcement mission is to show these criminals that they’re wrong.”
Those involved in piracy, counterfeiting, and identity theft
certainly have something to worry about: 2007 saw a 33 percent increase in IP cases
filed over 2005, a product of the Department’s ever-increasing international
network, which now includes satellite offices in Bulgaria and Thailand to
coordinate and train local enforcement efforts.
“One ongoing case resulted from years of diplomatic work
with law enforcement in China, and an extensive investigation involving Chinese
authorities and the FBI,” said Mukasey. “Last July, China’s Ministry of Public
Security arrested 25 Chinese nationals and seized more than half a billion
dollars worth of counterfeit software in the largest joint investigation ever
conducted by the FBI and the People’s Republic of China.”
Historically, the Justice Department generally pursues criminal
charges for IP theft where money changes hands, leaving file-sharing and the
world of P2P to the graces
of the content industry and its ongoing
campaign of civil litigation. This comes despite frequent political efforts
from content industry lobbyists, who have been trying for years to enact
legislation that would essentially force
the DoJ to pursue all forms of piracy – lumping Russian handbag
counterfeiters and 15-year-old top-40 aficionados in the same boat.
Prior to the speech, Mukasey said he met privately with
representatives from Hollywood, Adobe and Apple, but declined to say what was discussed.