Digital Citizens Alliance

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The Digital Citizens Alliance is a United States non-profit organization focused on internet safety issues.[1] It releases reports focused on malware, credit card theft, online drug sales to teens, piracy, and overall Internet consumer safety. In 2013, the organization criticized Google for not systematically removing videos from YouTube that were used to perpetrate fraud or provide instructions for buying drugs.[citation needed] In 2014 a debate was initiated around the organization's role in thwarting piracy.[citation needed]

In 2016 and 2017, Digital Citizens worked with state attorneys general on public service announcements to warn consumers about new malware risks from pirate websites and to alert citizens on the proper disposal of unused opioids and other prescription drugs.[citation needed]

Reports and Filings[edit]

In 2013 Digital Citizens Alliance conducted an expose on online pharmacies selling drugs to minors.[2][3] This was followed by a report on online drug marketplaces like Silk Road in 2014.[4] The DCA has issued several reports alleging that Google inappropriately profited from advertising revenues on YouTube videos that promote the unlawful sale of controlled substance.[5]

The DCA has conducted reports on whether ad-supported websites were infringing copyrights of movies and television shows.[6] In a report conducted with Media-link the DCA estimated that ad-supported content theft was at least a $227 million business.[7]

In a December 2015 report commissioned by Digital Citizens entitled Digital Bait security company RiskIQ reported that 1 in 3 visitors to content theft websites exposed themselves to malware that could lead to identity theft, financial loss, or the possibility to be infected with ransomware. The DCA has also have provided ongoing coverage of the state of darknet markets.[citation needed]

The DCA has reported that credit card companies were helping websites offer pirated content for a subscription fee.[8] In September 2014, they commissioned a report via the brand protection organization NetNames reporting how various cyberlocker sites "make millions" in profit.[9] The CEO of cloud storage service Mega said the allegations were "grossly untrue and highly defamatory"[10] and 4shared said the report was "defamatory."[11]

In June 2017, Digital Citizens released a report entitled "Trouble in Our Digital Midst" that explored how criminals and bad actors can manipulate digital platforms and offered recommendations on how to protect consumers. These suggestions included greater collaboration to identify and share information on bad actors in much the same way casinos share information about card counters.[12]

An August 2021 report by the DCA states that online criminals who offer pirated movies, TV shows, games, and live events through websites and apps are profiting $1.34 billion in annual advertising revenues.[13]

Advocacy issues[edit]

The Digital Citizens Alliance has been active working with consumer protection organizations on Internet safety issues, from the Dark Web to the sale of painkillers and steroids online to stolen credit cards.

According to its website the group has worked with the following organizations and industries on initiatives such as the following:

  • Worked with creative and security industries to raise consumer awareness on the alarming interconnection between hackers and online pirate websites trying to infect computers and other devices.
  • Worked with anti-steroids advocates to raise awareness about the ease these drugs are available online, especially among our nation's youth.
  • Collaborated with the pharmaceutical industry to encourage citizens to properly dispose of opioids and other prescription drugs.
  • Conducted investigations of online pharmacies’ willingness to sell prescription painkillers and other drugs to underage teens that don’t have a prescription.
  • Worked with security experts on the rampant sale of college .edu emails and passwords belonging to faculty, staff and students at colleges across the country.
  • Raised concerns about the blurring of the lines between mainstream digital platforms and the so-called Dark Web, including the sale of stolen credit cards, drugs and merchandise.
  • Worked with the legal gambling industry on the rise of so-called Internet sweepstake cafes in states and their efforts to skirt local gambling laws.

Former attorney general Peggy Lautenschlager in 2014 raised concerns that the organization hired lobbyist Mike Moore, who also served Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood as a consultant on a pro-bono basis. Jim Hood and the Mike Moore said they were motivated by Google's conduct.[14]


  1. ^ ABC News. "Silk Road: Underground Website Used for Black Market Drug Sales Bigger Than The Original, Report Says - ABC News". ABC News.
  2. ^ WZZM 13 Staff, WZZM 13 (12 June 2013). "Teens getting access to online prescription drugs". WZZM 13 News.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Hood: Google pulls videos on evading prescriptions". The Commercial Dispatch. 12 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Silk Road drug sales going strong after 'Dread Pirate Roberts' arrest". CNET. CBS Interactive.
  5. ^ "Need drugs or a fake ID? Try YouTube". Washington Post.
  6. ^ Ted Johnson (18 February 2014). "Report: 'Blue Chip' Brands Still Account for Ads on Piracy Sites - Variety". Variety.
  7. ^ "New Report Says How Much Advertising Is Going to Piracy Sites". AdWeek.
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times (18 September 2014). "Credit card companies helping 'rogue' websites, study says". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ NetNames. "BEHIND THE CYBERLOCKER DOOR: A Report on How Shadowy Cyberlocker Businesses Use Credit Card Companies to Make illions" (PDF). Digital Citizens Alliance. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  10. ^ Andy. "Mega Demands Apology Over "Defamatory" Cyberlocker Report". Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  11. ^ Ernesto (October 20, 2014). "4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Trouble in Our Digital Midst" (PDF). Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  13. ^ Gilblom, Kelly. "Pirated-Entertainment Sites Are Making Billions From Ads". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  14. ^ WINGFIELD, NICK (December 16, 2014). "Google's Detractors Take Their Fight to the States". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2015.

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