The digital age brings new freedoms, new convenience, but also new irritations - and new forms of crime. The world of justice struggles to keep up with the myriad ways cyber criminals use the internet, social media and smartphones to steal our money, privacy and time.
New crimes mean new punishments. Sticking some autistic nerd in a prison cell is both archaic and counterproductive: he (always he...) will only make himself a Wifi connection out of soap and boot polish and escape down the information superhighway. What's needed are cyber-punishments that fit the cyber-crimes. It's not so much a case of what would Raskalnikov have done (worked out some sort of phishing scam to snare Alyona, I imagine, though not necessarily her sister) - it's the punishment he'd receive. Would we sentence him to the UK version of Siberia (i.e., Suffolk) or be more... restorative in our justice?
Here are the 10 most common cybercrimes - and my suggestion for how transgressors should be punished. Our crumbling prisons are over-crowded, violent and overrun with Jihadists: not the place for cyber-criminals. So now I'm calling on the Home Secretary (subs: please insert name) to adopt my suggestions and upload the criminal justice system into the modern age.
Crime: It was bad enough when trolls lurked under bridges. At least now and then they got their come-uppance courtesy of a goat's horn. The new trolls are uglier, more poisonous and breed like rabbits.
Punishment: The perpetrator would have their entire life posted online and anyone who wishes can write anything about the troll they desire. The troll will be forced to read everything - but won't have a reply button.
Crime: Not the exciting kind but "modern" pirates, who think nothing of clicking "copy" on a folder full of vobs and pasting them where they shouldn't. These people are stealing intellectual property - books, music, spurious magazine articles (ed: link to this article) - and should feel the full force of the law.
Punishment: We make them WATCH that dodgy recording of Finding Dory complete with someone 's head. Make them LISTEN to the Coldplay and Adele albums they snaffled off Utorrent just because, like Everest, it was there. Make them READ the latest book on Kindle by James Corden. Then test them on it.
Crime: We've all done it: had a few too many, gone online and reposted some totally erroneous Chinese whisper (ed: is this racist?) about past-it pop stars and their peccadilloes only to find ourselves up on a slander charge. Obviously sometimes perpetrators do get into hot water for this - especially when they repost Tweets about that disgusting ••••••••• and his ••••••••••• with •••••• and the courgette but for every prosecution a thousand others get away with it.
Punishment: The libeller is barred from ever taking anyone to court for libel. Which means everyone on earth can say anything they like about them, forever. How do YOU like it, ••••••••••••?
Revenge porn and cyberstalking
Crime: This is really nasty. It's bad enough embittered exes sticking pics of your unmentionables all over the web, but even worse, the whole world can now see that dodgy 1970s wallpaper in your bedroom.
Punishment: Luckily the punishment for these people is easy: we place little GoPro cameras on their genitals. Every sexual act - and every time they are aroused, and by what - is broadcast to a riveted world.
Crime: Wifi running slow? You have a piggyback merchant, probably sat outside in an unmarked van. Having hacked your password they are now using your personal ISP to surf the net for drugs, guns and related nefariousness.
Punishment: Wire their heads and limbs up to the internet and make them a walking ISP. Everywhere they go people can log on to them to surf the net. Every time they do, it hinders their movements and sends their thought-processes into unwelcome areas.
Crime: You know - that guy from IT who's always on about the clean collapse of Building Seven, why flags on the moon shouldn't wave because there's no wind and the Bilderberg signs on a dollar note.
Punishment: Tell them it's all true but don't allow them to communicate with anyone other than other conspiracy theorists. Eventually these irrational and contradictory conspiracies will start to overlap and accumulate until the tin-foil-hat merchant's head implodes.
Crime: Stealing someone else's ID - whether to access their cash, social media feed or, judging from the fact you have to come up with a unique 64-digit password to access your gas bills, dreary domestic drek - is a heinous crime and should be punished as something heinous, whatever heinous means.
Punishment: ID thieves should be allowed to steal the ID of a stranger - but that stranger will be a gambler, bankrupt and chancer who makes increasingly unwise decisions as to their personal finances. The thief pays.
Crime: Every time you ever visit any webpage, ever, you are asked to click on a banner agreeing your consent to your cookies being tracked. It has been estimated that the amount of time wasted by all of humanity as a race collectively clicking on cookie consent buttons is loads.
Punishment: Tattoo "Cookie Monster" on their forehead so that every time they ask anyone anywhere for anything, ever, that person frowns quizzically and says - "Are you SURE?"
Pop up merchants
Crime: Pop-up windows on browsers are the worst thing in the whole world. People who design them under the impression they will entice us to purchase holidays, cat litter or snuff porn are wrong, and evil. Luckily, there is a solution.
Punishment: This is the only crime for which a locked room is essential. We lock them in a room at the South Pole. The room is heated: but has lots of windows. Every time the criminal closes one, another one or perhaps ten open. They spend the rest of their lives attempting to close windows, and failing.
Crime: I mean those loathsome creeps who watch kiddie and animal porn. No subject for laughter this, it's an evil and disgusting offence. It would be very easy to sit here and expound the populist view: chop off their wangs.
Punishment: Unfortunately there are so many of us (I mean you) looking at dodgy porn now that we sent them all to the Isle of Wight they'd feel at home, so I have another idea: force them to view scenes of extreme gerontophilia. All those pics of gastric grannies and wrinkled wangs might help nudge up their median interest in the human body to a respectable age.
THEN chop off their wangs.
As for bestiality: The perpetrator is only ever allowed to watch animals having sex - with another animal of the same species. Octopus on octopus, stoat on stoat, forever. With sound. And no soothing Attenborough explanations.
Crime: This isn't actually a crime, though it often leads to crimes being committed - voting Brexit, voting Corbyn, voting Trump, &c. How many times have we read forum posts, comments beneath articles, articles, and thought to ourselves: Katy Hopkins is a cretin?
Punishment: Here's what we do: each time anyone posts something online which is obviously stupid, racist, pro-Donald Trump - we bombard them with factually correct information. Books, academic papers, worthy documentaries - make them ingest accredited information till they fart.
These then are my solutions to the cyber crimewave breaking out all along the information superhighway like some sort of digital tsunami. You may find my ideas quasi-fascist, mean, or just plain unimaginative, which is fine - do write in. Here's my email address: