Sunday, September 1, 2013

Privateers In The 21st Century

A theme I've noticed in recent reading:

Asset forfeiture gives cops financial incentives to drum up false charges and seize property from innocent people.

Anti-drug "task forces" throughout the country have very little supervision or accountability, yet receive federal money in proportion to the arrests they make, which functions as another set of financial incentives for the prosecution of innocent people and the seizure of their assets.

Additionally, in Russia, criminals are safe from prosecution for credit card fraud as long as their victims live in other countries. They are especially safe from prosecution if their victims live in the United States.

Meanwhile, a LulzSec hacker has claimed that the FBI used criminal hackers to break into private networks belonging to foreign governments.

For contrast:

A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime... Privateers were part of naval warfare from the 16th to the 19th centuries...

Historically, the distinction between a privateer and a pirate has been, practically speaking, vague... The actual work of a pirate and a privateer is generally the same (raiding and plundering ships); it is, therefore, the authorization and perceived legality of the actions that form the distinction. At various times, governments indiscriminately granted authorization for privateering to a variety of ships, so much so that would-be pirates could easily operate under a veil of legitimacy.