Categorizing Computer-related Crime, Computer Crime Statutes, International Initiatives, Agencies Focused On Computer Crimes
Computerization significantly eases the performance of many tasks. For example, the speed and ability to communicate with people is fostered by the Internet, a worldwide network that is used to send communiqués and provide access to the world-wide web. But this same speed and ability to communicate also opens the door to criminal conduct. Computer crime plays a significant role in the criminal law of the information age. Accompanying the influx of computers is an increase in criminal acts and, as a result, an increase in the number of statutes to punish those who abuse and misuse this technology.
Computer crime, sometimes known as cyber-crime, is a serious concern. The crime can be perpetrated instantaneously and its effects can spread with incredible quickness. Furthermore, the ever-increasing use of computers, especially in serving critical infrastructure, makes computer criminality increasingly important.
There is an endless list of possible crimes that can occur through use of the Internet. For example, the Internet can be a medium used for committing hate crimes, pornography, consumer fraud, stalking, terrorism, theft of security or trade secrets, software piracy, economic espionage, and financial institution fraud. The threat of computer crime is underlined by the fact that a security organization such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation was forced to temporarily take down its Internet site in 1991 after an attack by hackers. Companies have been equally vulnerable and have incurred millions of dollars in damage due to the effect of certain viruses.
Misuse of the computer threatens individual and business privacy, public safety, and national security. There have been considerable efforts made by state, federal, and international governments to curb computer crime.
ELLEN S. PODGOR
See also EMPLOYEE THEFT: BEHAVIORAL ASPECTS; EMPLOYEE THEFT: LEGAL ASPECTS; FEAR OF CRIME; FEDERAL CRIMINAL JURISDICTION; POLICE: PRIVATE POLICE AND INDUSTRIAL SECURITY; SEX OFFENSES: CONSENSUAL; STALKING; THEFT; WHITE-COLLAR CRIME: HISTORY OF AN IDEA.
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