Policing Cyberspace: A Structural and Cultural Analysis

Policing Cyberspace: A Structural and Cultural Analysis

Policing Cyberspace: A Structural and Cultural Analysis

Policing Cyberspace: A Structural and Cultural Analysis


Nhan studies the policing of cybercrime in California. First-hand data is drawn from front-line cybercops (California's network of high-tech crimes task forces), the MPAA and motion picture studios, and high-tech companies, to explore structural, cultural, and various criminal justice issues in policing cyberspace. This research applies a nodal governance theoretical framework to map and assess social networks using the different actors involved in fighting cybercrime. Initial findings suggest collaborative security efforts are marred by inter-organizational frictions. Moreover, this security alliance must deal with digital media pirates, hostile hackers, and an unsympathetic public.


Cybercrime is no longer an emerging crime envisioned in the 1980s science fiction movie WarGames, but it is a clear and present threat. In a 60-Minutes special aired on November 8, 2009, host Steve Kroft declared that the next big war will be waged in cyberspace. According to one cyber security expert interviewed, terabytes of sensitive government information were stolen by a serious hacker attack in 2007 and in 2008, U.S. Central Command computers were compromised for several days by an attacker. These critical events have prompted the Obama administration declared the nation’s cyber infrastructure a critical asset just four months after taking office, stating, “It’s now clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” (Baldor, 2009). As of the time of this writing, there are 18 cyber-related bills active in congress (Chun, 2009). These present dangers can be traced back to the origins of the computer revolution and the Internet, when crime and security was not a concern for its founding architects.

Over the last few decades, computer technology has evolved from centralized mainframe computing to a decentralized “network of networks,” known as the World Wide Web or Internet (Tanenbaum, 2003). This technological shift has both social and commercial ramifications. Inexpensive personal computers and devices are now ubiquitously interconnected, allowing the masses access to technology and information once reserved exclusively for scientists. Furthermore, the Internet’s permeation into areas of modern life has resulted in

Messic, G. “Sabotaging the System.” 60 Minutes aired on November 8, 2009. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

“Cyberspace” is a term coined by American-Canadian novelist William Gibson in his 1984 science fiction novel Neuromancer.

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