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Defining the Boundaries of Computer Crime: Piracy, Trespass, and Vandalism in Cyberspace. Herman T. Tavani. Introduction. The media has widely reported criminal and questionable activities May 2000, I Love You Virus (Love Bug)

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defining the boundaries of computer crime piracy trespass and vandalism in cyberspace

Defining the Boundaries of Computer Crime: Piracy, Trespass, and Vandalism in Cyberspace

Herman T. Tavani

  • The media has widely reported criminal and questionable activities
  • May 2000, I Love You Virus (Love Bug)
  • Feb 2000 cyber-attacks on commercial web sites Amazon, eBay, CNN, Yahoo, etc resulting in Denial of Service to customers
  • Dec 1999, start of RIAA and Napster litigation
  • These certainly seem like issues of cyber crime
intro 2
Intro (2)
  • Other types of computer behaviors
    • Pedophiles using Internet to lure unsuspecting young children
    • Cyberstalking, at least one resulting in death of cyberstalking victim
    • Some individuals use Internet to distribute child pornography
    • Are these criminal activities examples of computer crime
    • What constitutes computer crime? A key point of the paper
do we need a category of computer crime
Do we Need a Category of Computer Crime?
  • Quick History of Computer Crimes
    • 70’s and 80’s Crimes characterized by disgruntled employees who altered files in computer databases or sabotaged computer systems in the act of seeking revenge on employers, and hackers breaking into systems
    • The Hackers would break into supposedly secure systems as a prank or malicious attempt to subvert data or its flow
    • Some hackers used computers to transfer monetary funds from wealthy individuals and corporations to poorer individuals and corps
computer crime as a category 2
Computer Crime as a Category(2)
  • Some media reports portrayed young hackers as countercultural heroes
  • Today, the attitude of many in the media and the public has shifted considerably
  • Far fewer individuals and organizations are sympathetic to the causes of computer hackers
    • Why? Possibly the growing dependence of citizens on the Internet
    • A growing concern that cyberspace must become more secure and that hacking should not be tolerated
computer crime as a category 3
Computer Crime as a Category(3)
  • Many reports about misuses of computers but not a clear criteria for what constitutes a computer crime -- he will now work on this
  • Should crimes involving the presence of one or more computers be classified as computer crimes?
  • Or, is there nothing special about crimes that involve computers? (Gotterbarn ‘91)
  • There have been times that it was thought any crime involving a computer was a computer crime but that may not necessarily be true
computer crime as a category 4
Computer Crime as a Category (4)
  • Is a murder involving the use of a scalpel automatically an issue in medical ethics just because a medical instrument was used?
  • Johnson ‘84 initially wrote that crimes involving computers are not qualitatively different from crimes in which no computer is present but has modified her position (‘94)
do we need a separate category of computer crime
Do we need a Separate Category of Computer Crime?
  • Gotterbarn and Johnson raise important points other critics do too.
  • Also of note is that crimes of diverse types are also committed in many sectors but we don’t have separate categories for crimes committed in each of those areas.
  • So, do we need computer crime as a separate category?
his answer
His Answer
  • Three scenarios involving criminal activity and a computer but is it necessarily computer crime?
  • 1) An individual steals a computer device (like a printer)
  • 2) An individual breaks into a computer lab and then snoops around
  • 3) An individual enters a lab they are authorized to enter and places an explosive device on a computer mainframe or server
  • Each of these is criminal in nature but are they necessarily computer crime?
how to look at these
How to look at these
  • Are they unique because of the presence of computers?
  • Could they be prosecuted as ordinary crimes involving theft, breaking and entering, and vandalism even though computers are present?
  • Maybe then, we don’t need a category of computer crime?
  • Consider though, would having a category of computer crime help us to understand better certain nuances of illegal or immoral activities involving computer technology?
  • Or, be helpful in prosecuting certain criminal activities involving the use of the technology that could be difficult to prosecute under conventional legal statues?
legal moral and informational descriptive categories of computer crime
Legal, Moral, and Informational/Descriptive Categories of Computer Crime
  • There are arguments for having computer crime as a separate category from legal, moral, and informational/descriptive perspectives
  • Legally, computer crime might be viewed as a useful category for prosecuting certain kinds of crimes
  • Much as some states have handgun laws that allow a crime involving handguns to be prosecuted as a handgun crime
  • Would allow a crime involving a computer to be treated as a computer crime
would that be good
Would that be good?
  • What if someone hits someone over the head with a handgun, should it be prosecuted as a handgun crime? Was that the intent of the law in that type of situation? What if the gun used was a toy? How is this different as a crime from hitting them on the head with a rock?
  • This can be confusing to write appropriate legislation and points to potential problems in writing laws for computer crime or to prosecute all crimes involving the use or presence of computer technology under the specific legal category of computer crime
computer crime as a moral category
Computer Crime as a Moral Category
  • Is it useful as a moral category?
  • There are a number of ethical questions that both precede and follow from declaring certain computer related activities illegal
  • Which forms of online behavior should we criminalize?
  • Are certain forms of online behavior inherently immoral or are they considered immoral only because they are declared illegal?
  • Many of the ethical issues dealing with computer crime also border on issues involving intellectual property, personal privacy, and free speech in cyberspace
computer crime as a descriptive or informational nature
Computer Crime as a Descriptive or Informational Nature
  • Recall James Moor’s article introducing idea of policy vacuums and conceptual muddles
  • Computers make possible certain kinds of criminal activities that otherwise would not have been possible in the pre-computer era
  • Our existing laws and policies are not always able to be extended to cover adequately at least certain kinds of crimes involving computers
  • Having a descriptive category of computer crime can help resolve some of the conceptual confusions and muddles underlying crimes involving computers
  • That could then help us to frame some legal and ethical policies regarding computer crime
establishing clear and coherent criteria
Establishing Clear and Coherent Criteria
  • Forester and Morrison define a computer crime as a “criminal act in which a computer is used as the “principal tool.”
  • With this, the theft of a computer hardware device (printer), theft of an automobile full of microprocessors would not be a computer crime b/c the computer is not the principal tool for carrying out the crime
  • Similarly, when we discussed breaking into the computer lab, vandalizing a computer system in the lab, these three examples are not computer crimes using this definition
does it work
Does it work?
  • What about the person who files their federal income tax forms online using the computer and fills in some forms with incorrect information?
  • Clearly, they are using the computer as the principal tool
  • Should it be a computer crime?
    • Could have filled in the same wrong information with pencil and paper
    • That he used the computer is coincident but not essential to this particular computer act
  • Maybe this definition is not quite adequate
another definition
Another Definition
  • Combines Moor’s ideas as well as Morrison’s and Fosters
  • For a criminal act to be a computer crime, the act must be one that can be carried out only through the use of computer technology
  • This capture Moor’s view that new opportunities (new possibilities for crime) are made possible because of the existence of the computer technology and,
  • does incorporate Morrison and Fosters views while restricting the range of the crimes
so lets test this definition
So, lets test this definition
  • The income tax case-- rules it out
  • Using a computer device in the act of assaulting someone?
    • Rules it out too
applying our definition to some specific cases
Applying our Definition to some Specific Cases
  • Consider the earlier examples of this paper
  • ILOVE YOU VIRUS as a criminal act and also a computer crime
  • Denial of Service attacks as a criminal act and also a computer crime
  • Distributing MP3 files via Napster also satisfies this proposed definition of computer crime
what about the questionable examples
What about the Questionable Examples?
  • Pedophiles?
  • Stalking someone
  • Distributing child pornography
  • He indicates that these are still all crimes but not strictly computer crimes using the last definition because all of these have been done in the past
  • That is not to say that certain communities, states, or governments may not enact or have enacted laws that do make these computer crimes but from the philosophical definition given by Tavani they are not strictly computer crimes.
three types of computer crime piracy trespass and vandalism in cyberspace p 521
Three types of Computer Crime: Piracy, Trespass, and Vandalism in Cyberspace p 521
  • you read this section - may have a question