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Computer Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 41 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2004 Pages: 313-367
Arthur J. Carter IV; Audrey Perry
Date Published
54 pages
This article discusses Federal, State, and international developments in computer-related criminal law.
The opening section first defines computer crime according to the U.S. Justice Department as "any violations of criminal law that involve a knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation, or prosecution." The Department of Justice specifies three categories of computer-related offenses according to the computer's role in the crime; first, a computer may be the "object" of a crime (theft of computer hardware or software); second, a computer may be the "subject" of a crime (computer "viruses," "worms," and other attacks that disable and damage the functioning and content of the computer); and third, a computer may be an "instrument" used to commit traditional crimes. A discussion of Federal legislative approaches to computer crime first explains the offenses, jurisdiction, defenses, and sentencing under the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996. This is followed by a review of other Federal statutes that pertain to computer crime; namely, copyright statutes, the National Stolen Property Act, mail and wire fraud statutes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and child pornography statutes. Federal enforcement strategies, constitutional issues, and statutory issues related to computer crime are also addressed. The section on State approaches to computer crime presents an overview of State criminal codes and then discusses issues of jurisdiction and enforcement. A discussion of international approaches to computer crime considers Internet-related regulation and international convergence and cooperation. 385 footnotes