IDP2014 (VIII). Henrik Kaspersen: Cybercrime: a decade of transformations

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Maria José Pifarré, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Henrik Kaspersen, in active life holder of the Computer Law Chair of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Cybercrime: a decade of transformations

A definition of computer cribe by Donn Parker (1974):

  • The computer system is the target.
  • The computer system is the instrument.
  • The computer system is the environment.
  • The computer system is legitimation.

Computer crime evolves in parallel, in the level of crime and complexity, with the development of ICTs. And as crime increased and became more complex, so did international definitions, recommendations and adoption of measures to fight computer crime and to prevent it.

There is much cybercrime that actually is not such, as the involvement of communications in crime does not always mean that it is cybercrime properly speaking. So, we need to (re)define well cybercrime, state the different types of cybercrime, avoid duplication of domestic law, avoid specification and focus instead only on main conduct, etc.

Types of cybercrime:

  • Technical crimes: threat of ICT-security and integrity (cracking, phishing, etc.).
  • Fraud by means of ICT or by manipulation of ICT (forgery, embezzlement, identity theft, etc.)
  • Content related offences: crimes that seem to be particularly facilitated by ICT (child abuse images, racist and xenophobe expressions, etc.); crimes that are likely not to be criminalized in most countries.

There has been an increasing co-operation at the international level to prevent and fight cybercrime. EU co-funded projects: Cyber@IPA for the Balkans and Turkey; Cyber@EAP for Eastern Europe; Glacy, with a worldwide approach.

The cybercrime convention of 2001 tries to bring together as much countries as possible to collaborate on the fight against cybercrime, as it is committed anywhere, and you can suffer it also anywhere. Support programmes: legal training, exchange of data, technical knowledge, co-operation with third parties (industry, ISPs).

Challenges of the fight against cybercrime:

  • Lack of criminal statistics.
  • Analysis by victim-reports.
  • Emphasis on modus operandi.
  • Technical offences today are only instrument for common crime.
  • Specific perpetrator behaviour?


Ismael Peña-López: could it be possible to include in these international agreements something on the public sector, on governments and their behaviours against Internet-related freedoms? Kaspersen: that is a very difficult issue. Could be a good idea, but for instance it is very difficult to tell if a country digitally boycotts another country’s firms or infrastructures, whether this is cybercrime, or cyber warfare, and what consequences should arise from that. Cybercrime will most likely remain within the boundaries of criminal law.


10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “IDP2014 (VIII). Henrik Kaspersen: Cybercrime: a decade of transformations” In ICTlogy, #130, July 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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