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Catching Cybercriminals: Policing the Internet

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This article seeks to contribute to the existing debate(s) over the governance of cyberspace by focusing not upon legal frameworks, which have been already been the subject of much good work, but upon the enforcement of law. What is missing from much of the recent debate has been a substantive discussion of some of the practical problems of policing the Internet, such as by whom and how it should be (is being) policed. Such considerations are becoming increasingly important as the inhabitants of cyberspace multiply in number. It is argued that much of the debate over the policing of the Internet has tended to be driven by moral panics. As these panics subside it is becoming clear that there is clearly a confusion in the literature between the potential and actual harms that can be inflicted by cybercrimes. Consequently, we must be wary of reports which exaggerate the extent to which cybercrimes have proliferated, especially when those reports appear to originate from bodies who are currently engaged in the growing cybercrime industry. Furthermore, the legal problems appear to be less considerable as previously thought, especially with regard to the conflict of laws. This is not to say that there is not a problem, for there clearly is, but the article suggests that some of the undesirable behaviours will work themselves out, some will be eradicated by technology, whilst the remainder will continue to challenge our traditional understandings of crimes and deviant behaviours and the way that we police them. The first part of this article will look briefly at the growth of cybercrime: at what it is, who are the offenders and who are their victims. The second part will look at current models of policing the Internet and the third part will explore the appropriateness of the terrestrial policing model to the treatment of cybercrimes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-07-01

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