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Attacking Human Implants: A New Generation of Cybercrime

5 Law, Innovation and Technology (2), p. 248-277

30 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2014  

Mark N. Gasson

University of Reading - Department of Cybernetics

Bert-Jaap Koops

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

Date Written: December 15, 2013

Abstract

Human ICT implants, such as RFID implants, cochlear implants, cardiac pacemakers, Deep Brain Stimulation, bionic limbs connected to the nervous system, and networked cognitive prostheses, are becoming increasingly complex. With ever-growing data processing functionalities in these implants, privacy and security become vital concerns. Electronic attacks on human ICT implants can cause significant harm, both to implant subjects and to their environment. This paper explores the vulnerabilities that human implants pose to crime victimisation in light of recent technological developments, and analyses how the law can deal with emerging challenges of what may well become the next generation of cybercrime: attacks targeted at technology implanted in the human body.

After a state-of-the-art description of relevant types of human implants and a discussion how these implants challenge existing perceptions of the human body, we describe how various modes of attacks, such as sniffing, hacking, data interference, and denial of service, can be committed against implants. Subsequently, we analyse how these attacks can be assessed under current substantive and procedural criminal law, drawing on examples from UK and Dutch law. The possibilities and limitations of cybercrime provisions (e.g., unlawful access, system interference) and bodily integrity provisions (e.g., battery, assault, causing bodily harm) to deal with human-implant attacks are analysed.

Based on this assessment, the paper concludes that attacks on human implants are not only a new generation in the evolution of cybercrime, but also raise fundamental questions on how criminal law conceives of attacks. Traditional distinctions between physical and non-physical modes of attack, between human bodies and things, and between exterior and interior of the body need to be re-interpreted in light of developments in human implants. As the human body and technology increasingly merge, cybercrime legislation and body-integrity crime legislation will become intertwined, posing a new puzzle that legislators and practitioners will sooner or later have to solve.

Keywords: ICT implants, human body, cyberattacks, cybercrime, bodily integrity, criminal law

JEL Classification: K14, K42, O33, O38, I18

Suggested Citation

Gasson, Mark N. and Koops, Bert-Jaap, Attacking Human Implants: A New Generation of Cybercrime (December 15, 2013). 5 Law, Innovation and Technology (2), p. 248-277. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2485301

Mark N. Gasson

University of Reading - Department of Cybernetics ( email )

Reading, RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

Bert-Jaap Koops (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037
Netherlands

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