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The Internet as a Conduit for Criminal Activity

David S. Wall

University of Durham

March 18, 2010

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, Pattavina, A., ed., pp. 77-98, Sage Publications, Inc., 2005

While there appears to be a common view that the Internet has had a major impact upon criminality, there is much less consensus as to what that impact has been. Many sources make claims about the prevalence of cybercrimes (networked computer crime) without clarifying what is precisely the issue at hand. Indeed, when so-called cases of cybercrime come to court they often have the familiar ring of the 'traditional' rather than the 'cyber' about them. Fraud, pornography, paedophilia, etc., are already covered by substantive areas of law in most jurisdictions. Even more confusing is the gap between the many hundreds of thousands of estimated incidents and the relatively small number of known prosecutions - which questions the early predictions that cybercrimes, unless checked, could effectively bring criminals into every home. In fact, the confusion has led some authors to question whether or not there are indeed such things as cybercrimes (Brenner, 2001:1). Others, have questioned whether cybercrimes are actually categories of crime in need of new theory or whether they are better understood by existing theories (Jones, 2003:98). These contrasting viewpoints expose a large gap in our understanding and beg a number of questions. Are, for example, our concerns about cybercrime driven solely by the media sensitisation of one or two novel events and effectively fabricated into a crime wave. Or are the dramatic news stories the product of information sources created by the cyber-security industry which has a vested interest in sensationalising cybercrimes. Alternatively, could it simply be the case that the criminal justice processes are woefully inefficient at bringing wrongdoers to justice. There again, are we perhaps looking at an entirely new phenomena through the wrong lens? (N.B. This chapter was originally published in 2005 and revised in 2010).

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: Cybercrime, computers and crime, technology and crime, governance of crime, crime prevention and technology, ICT related crimes, ICT and fight against crime

JEL Classification: K42, K19, K29

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Date posted: June 13, 2005 ; Last revised: August 23, 2014

Suggested Citation

Wall, David S., The Internet as a Conduit for Criminal Activity (March 18, 2010). INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, Pattavina, A., ed., pp. 77-98, Sage Publications, Inc., 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=740626

Contact Information

David S. Wall (Contact Author)
University of Durham ( email )
Criminology, School of Applied Social Sciences
32 Old Elvet
Durham, DH1 3HN
United Kingdom
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