IDP2016 (VI). Cybercrime

Notes from the 12th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Building a European digital space, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 7-8 July 2016. More notes on this event: idp2016.

Communications on Cybercrime
Chairs: Josep Maria Tamarit

The European Commission and security governance: the role of a policy shaper in the fight against cybercrime.
Ana Paula Brandão, Assistant Professor of International Relations, University of Minho, Portugal; Researcher of the Political Science Research Centre (CICP).

The concept of security is today quite comprehensive and wide. We have to think of ways of security governance that may even work without a government. From who governs and how, to who controls for whom.

Why is cybercrime so important for the EU?

  • Transboundary security problem.
  • EU, a key target.
  • Expansion and sophistication of the issue.
  • Public-private nexus.

We are now entering an age of “securitization”, where many issues are seen under the light of security. The concern on security is huge.

We need a common definition of cybercrime, a comprehensive approach for this multifaceted issue, horizontal coordination, public-private cooperation, a new normative dimension, etc.

New technologies applied to criminal law: the search of computer equipment.
Inmaculada López-Barajas Perea, Profesora Titular Acreditada de Derecho Procesal, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

There is an increase of an invasion of privacy from the government, allegedly for security and criminal reasons. It is actually true that private life happens in many places, many of them virtual or digital, and which are now subject of search in case of suspicion of crime.

What the legislator is now trying is that each and every citizen right affected by a police action has to be individually authorised. That is, during a search in a house, one cannot take the personal computer as if it was just a device to storage information, because it includes much more than that: it is a gate for freedom of speech, it holds personal data, etc.

Same applies to performing searches on systems connected to the personal system. Expanding the search to other systems will require the corresponding authorisation.

Defamation in 140 characters (or less): civil liability for honour damaging in Twitter.
Albert Ruda González Profesor agregado de Derecho civil de la Universitat de Girona.

Twibel: libel by tweet.

Libel has always been a human practice, but Twitter gives it a new meaning: because it is open by default, because retweeting gives the original libel an extendend and expanded life (and without context), etc.

Usual problems:

  • Anonymity: who is liable?
  • Parodies: where is the limit?
  • Big diffusion of the publications.
  • Liability of the RT.
  • Disclaimers of non-liability: again, where are the limits?
  • How to publish the sentence on Twitter?


Q: what happens when a bot steals one’s identity and libels other users on Twitter? Ruda: impersonation is not accepted on Twitter and, when it happens, the user is blocked. In the same train of thought, this should not make anyone liable for having had their identities stolen.

Josep Maria Tamarit: what are we witnessing, a shift of platforms, where libel, or hate-speech, is moving from one place (e.g. a square) to another one (e.g. Twitter)? Or is it that libel (and other practices) is increasing due to the facilitation of new technologies, especially social networking sites?


12th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2016)