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Computer Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2010 Pages: 287-329
Jessica L. McCurdy
Date Published
43 pages
This article discusses Federal, State, and international developments in computer-related criminal law.
After defining computer crimes, the article addresses the constitutional and jurisdictional issues related to computer crimes. This is followed by a description of the Federal approaches used in prosecuting computer crime and an analysis of enforcement strategies. The article then examines State approaches in countering computer crime before considering international approaches in regulating computer crimes. The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) broadly defines computer crime as "any violations of criminal law that involve knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation, or prosecution." Because of the diversity of computer-related offenses, a narrower definition would be inadequate. The DOJ divides computer-related crimes into three categories according to the computer's role in the particular crime. A computer may be the "object" of a crime (theft of computer hardware or software); the "subject" of a crime (spam, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, logic bombs, sniffers, distributed denial of service attacks, and unauthorized Web bots); or an instrument of a crime (identity theft, child pornography, copyright infringement, and mail or wire fraud). Constitutional issues related to computer crime usually fall under either the first amendment or the fourth amendment. There are also some federalism issues, particularly regarding how much the Federal Government can regulate intrastate behavior under the Commerce Clause. The article discusses the latter issue in relation to Federal jurisdiction. The article's section on Federal approaches to countering computer crime explores the major Federal statutes, enforcement strategies, and constitutional issues regarding computer related crimes. A discussion of State approaches to computer-related crimes presents an overview of the content and enforcement of State criminal codes, followed by a discussion of issues in international computer crime law. 412 notes