Computer Crimes

By Jacobson, Heather; Green, Rebecca | American Criminal Law Review, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Computer Crimes


Jacobson, Heather, Green, Rebecca, American Criminal Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

This Article discusses developments in computer-related criminal law and legal literature. As crimes committed with computers often do not respect state or national boundaries, it is important to examine federal, state, and international approaches to computer crime legislation and enforcement. Section I defines computer crime and sets out the major categories of computer crimes. Section II describes the federal statutes used for prosecuting computer crimes and analyzes defenses, sentencing, and enforcement strategies. Section III examines state approaches to battling computer crime and resulting federalism issues. Lastly, Section IV addresses international approaches to regulating the Internet as well as the recent cooperation among nations to combat computer crimes.

A. Defining Computer Crime

The Department of Justice ("DOJ") broadly defines computer crime as "any violations of criminal law that involve a knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation, or prosecution." (1) Because of the diversity of computer related offenses, a narrower definition would not be adequate. While the term "computer crime" includes traditional crimes committed with the use of a computer, (2) the rapid emergence of computer technologies and the Internet's (3) exponential expansion have spawned a variety of new, technology-specific criminal behaviors that must also be included in the category of"computer crimes." (4) As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in specialized legislation to combat these new criminal behaviors. (5)

Experts have had difficulty calculating the damage caused by computer crimes, due to the difficulty in adequately defining computer crimes, (6) to victims' reluctance to report incidents for fear of losing customer confidence (7) and to the lack of detection. (8) However, estimates put the yearly loss to the United States in the billions of dollars. (9)

B. Types of Computer-Related Offenses

The DOJ divides computer-related crimes into three categories according to the computer's role in the particular crime. (10) First, a computer may be the "object" of a crime. (11) This category primarily refers to theft of computer hardware or software. (12)

Second, a computer may be the "subject" of a crime. (13) In this category, the computer is akin to the pedestrian who is mugged or the house that is robbed--it is the subject of the attack and the site of any damage caused. This category encompasses all of the novel crimes that have arisen out of the technology explosion of the last several decades, including the use of "viruses," (14) "worms," (15) "Trojan horses," (16) "logic bombs," (17) "sniffers," (18) and "distributed denial of service attacks." (19) Many offenders in this category are motivated by malice or mischief rather than financial gain; (20) this type of crime is particularly popular among juveniles, (21) disgruntled employees (22) and professional hackers who want to show off their skills. (23)

Third, a computer may be an "instrument" used to commit traditional crimes in a more complex manner. (24) These traditional crimes include identity theft, (25) child pornography, (26) copyright infringement, (27) and mail and wire fraud. (28)

II. FEDERAL APPROACHES

This Section explores the major federal statutes, enforcement strategies and constitutional issues regarding computer related crimes. Part A discusses key federal statutes in the prosecution of computer crimes, the most significant of which is the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996. (29) Part B describes relevant enforcement efforts and Part C examines First and Fourth Amendment issues.

Although the focus of this article is the federal government's approach to prosecuting criminal computer offenses, litigation under recent amendments (30) has centered primarily on civil remedies. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Computer Crimes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.