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. It has criticized Google for not systematically removing videos from YouTube that are used to perpetrate fraud or provide instructions for buying drugs.[2][3] In 2014 a debate was prompted by leaked Sony emails about the organization's role in thwarting piracy. DCA reports and work have been showcased on ABC News, the New York Times, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Wired and numerous other publications.

In 2016 and 2017 Digital Citizens worked with state attorneys general on PSAs 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.

Reports and Filings[edit]

In 2013, Digital Citizens Alliance conducted an expose on online pharmacies selling drugs to minors.[4][5] This was followed by a report on online drug marketplaces like Silk Road in 2014.[6] DCA has issued several reports alleging that Google inappropriately profited from advertising revenues on YouTube videos that promote the sale of unlawful sale of controlled substance.[7]

Digital Citizens has conducted reports on whether ad-supported websites were infringing copyrights of movies and television shows.[8] In one report, with MediaLink, Digital Citizens estimated that ad-supported content theft was at least a $227 million business.[9]

In a December 2015 report entitled Digital Bait commissioned by Digital Citizens, security company RiskIQ reported that 1 in 3 visitors to content theft websites exposed themselves to malware that can lead to identity theft, financial loss and ransomware. Digital Citizens has also have provided ongoing coverage of the state of darknet markets.

In another report, Digital Citizens reported that credit card companies were helping websites offer pirated content for a subscription fee.[10] In September 2014, they commissioned a report via the brand protection organization NetNames reporting how various cyberlocker sites 'make millions' in profit.[11] The CEO of cloud storage service Mega said the allegations were 'grossly untrue and highly defamatory'[12] and 4shared said the report was 'defamatory'.[13] Mega, however, never actually followed up on its threat to sue.

They have provided ongoing coverage of the state of darknet markets.[14] In March 2017, the group published a report showing how nearly 14 million Stolen email addresses and passwords from some of the largest U.S. universities are being offered for sale on the Dark Web. In April 2017, a report entitled, "The Fake Epidemic: How Fake News, “Like-Farming” and Scam GoFundMe Campaigns Are Undermining Trust in the Internet – And What We as A Society Must Do About It," showed how Americans are losing faith in the credibility of the Internet. According to the report, "Half of Americans weren't sure something was fake news when they came across it. In fact, 1 in 4 said they shared something or sent it to others only to later find out it was fake or false information. Sixty-one percent said that fake news and information made them less likely to rely on the Internet as a source of information."

In June 2017, Digital Citizens released a report entitled "Digital Midst" that explored how criminals and bad actors are manipulating digital platforms and offered recommendations on how to protect consumers, including greater collaboration to identify and share information on bad actors, in much the same way casinos share information about card cheats.

Advocacy issues[edit]

Digital Citizens 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:

1) 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.

2) Worked with anti-steroids advocates to raise awareness about the ease these drugs are available online, especially among our nation’s youth.

3) Collaborated with the pharmaceutical industry to encourage citizens to properly dispose of opioids and other prescription drugs.

4) Conducted investigations of online pharmacies’ willingness to sell prescription painkillers and other drugs to underage teens that don’t have a prescription.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) Worked with the legal gambling industry on the rise of so-called Internet sweepstakes cafes in states and their efforts to skirt local gambling laws

In 2014 in response to leaked Sony emails, former attorney general Peggy Lautenschlager 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ABC News. "Silk Road: Underground Website Used for Black Market Drug Sales Bigger Than The Original, Report Says - ABC News". ABC News. 
  2. ^ "Hood: Google pulls videos on evading prescriptions". Yahoo News. 11 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times (16 June 2014). "Videos aimed at aiding credit card fraud abundant on YouTube". latimes.com. 
  4. ^ WZZM 13 Staff, WZZM 13 (12 June 2013). "Teens getting access to online prescription drugs". WZZM 13 News. 
  5. ^ "Hood: Google pulls videos on evading prescriptions". The Commercial Dispatch. 
  6. ^ "Silk Road drug sales going strong after 'Dread Pirate Roberts' arrest". CNET. CBS Interactive. 
  7. ^ "Need drugs or a fake ID? Try YouTube". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Ted Johnson. "Report: 'Blue Chip' Brands Still Account for Ads on Piracy Sites - Variety". Variety. 
  9. ^ "New Report Says How Much Advertising Is Going to Piracy Sites". AdWeek. 
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times (18 September 2014). "Credit card companies helping 'rogue' websites, study says". latimes.com. 
  11. ^ NetNames. "BEHIND THE CYBERLOCKER DOOR: A Report on How Shadowy Cyberlocker Businesses Use Credit Card Companies to Make illions" (PDF). www.itif.org/. Digital Citizens Alliance. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Andy. "Mega Demands Apology Over "Defamatory" Cyberlocker Report". torrentfreak.com. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Ernesto (October 20, 2014). "4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report". Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  14. ^ WINGFIELD, NICK (December 16, 2014). "Google's Detractors Take Their Fight to the States". Retrieved 1 January 2015. 

External links[edit]