Virtual Crimes, Actual Threats: Deterring National Security Offenses Committed Through Cyberspace
Journal of Law and Cyber Warfare, Volume 4, Issue 2 (2015)
23 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2015 Last revised: 4 Jun 2015
Date Written: March 10, 2015
With the pervasive use of online communication media, we witness the increasing abuse of such media by terrorists and their supporters. These groups and individuals take advantage of online communication to promote and execute physical acts of terror. Due to the characteristics of online activity (mostly anonymity and monitoring limitations), such cyber-crimes pose serious policy challenges because it is difficult to isolate and punish the perpetrators through traditional legal measures.
This paper explores possible responses to those challenges. It begins with the Israeli judicial experience regarding cyber-terrorism. An Examination of recent Israeli case law indicates that courts impose punishments for crimes committed in the virtual world comparable to more traditional criminal activity in the physical realm. Some courts even go a step further, and have debated whether virtual criminal activity should merit harsher punishments than physical crime in the interest of deterrence, considering that virtual crime is more difficult to detect and prosecute than traditional crime.
Expanding upon this debate, this paper examines the instrumental capacity of criminal law, and criminal deterrence-by-punishment policy, in addressing the unique challenges of cyber national security offenses. The following analysis of the general challenges of deterrence by-punishment and cyber-terrorism is not unique to the Israeli legal system. And an examination of these issues suggests that increased punishment severity as a deterrence mechanism is limited in achieving deterrence given the cyber aspects of those crimes and the unique criminological aspects of terror-related activity.
This paper, therefore, includes policy guidelines for future legal responses to cyber national security offenses, including recommendations for joint legislative actions and a focused legal response to supporters of those criminal acts.
Keywords: criminal law, punishment, criminology, terror, cyber, Israel, deterrence, national security, internet
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