Creating the Ground Rules: How can Cybercrimes be Defined and Governed?

Creating the Ground Rules: How can Cybercrimes be Defined and Governed?

Gráinne Kirwan (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland) and Andrew Power (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-350-8.ch001

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Online crime takes many forms and a distinction should be made between activities such as; the theft of goods online which is clearly a crime, private law issues such as disputes between buyers and sellers of online goods, and issues of anti social behavior or harassment. Certain activities, such as spamming, hacking and cracking can, depending on severity, target and context, fit into any one of the three categories listed.

The variety of activities and intents has meant that the term cybercrime has come to encompass a range of activities and has not yet achieved a single agreed definition. Definitions include, “crime committed using a computer and the internet to steal a person's identity or sell contraband or stalk victims or disrupt operations with malevolent programs”, which is used by Princeton University (n.d.). It has also been defined in the New World Encyclopedia (n.d.) as “a term used broadly to describe activity in which computers or computer networks are the tool, target, or place of criminal activity. Cybercrime takes a number of forms including identity theft, internet fraud, violation of copyright laws through file sharing, hacking, computer viruses, denial of service attacks, and spam”.. The IT security company Symantec (n.d.) defines two categories of cybercrime, “Type I, examples of this type of cybercrime include but are not limited to phishing, theft or manipulation of data or services via hacking or viruses, identity theft, and bank or e-commerce fraud. Type II cybercrime includes, but is not limited to activities such as cyberstalking and harassment, child predation, extortion, blackmail, stock market manipulation, complex corporate espionage, and planning or carrying out terrorist activities”. More succinct definitions include, “crimes perpetrated over the internet, typically having to do with online fraud” (PC Mag Encyclopedia, n.d.) or “crime committed using the Internet, for example stealing someone’s personal information or introducing harmful programs into someone’s computer”. (Macmillan Dictionary, n.d.)

Some of these definitions are clearly more specific than others and thus more useful in the framing of any legal position on the subject. However the more common understanding of cybercrime as being any activity occurring online which has intended negative consequences for others is more suitable to our purpose of an exploration of the field. This chapter takes a broad definition of the term cybercrime and assumes it to cover a wide range of activities which may vary from those which are clearly breaches of criminal law to those which could more accurately be described as private law issues. Types of crime can be categorized as internet enabled crimes, internet specific crimes and new crimes committed in a virtual world.

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