Computer Crime And Computer Piracy

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Computer Crime and Computer Piracy

Computer Crime and Computer Piracy


Computer crime is extremely difficult to detect, in part because of the power of computers to process, and the Internet to disseminate, electronic information rapidly and the fact that many people have access to the Internet at universities, businesses, libraries, and homes. When data communications take place at high speeds without personal contact, users are left with very little time to consider the implications of their actions online. Moreover, many computer crimes are relatively effortless and can be accomplished via a few keystrokes or by a simple “drag and drop” mouse maneuver that takes mere seconds. Additionally, temporal and spatial limitations are largely irrelevant in cyberspace, and both personal and property crimes can occur at any time and place because the Internet provides global interconnectivity.

Because they can use chat room pseudonyms, temporary e-mail accounts, multiple Internet venues, and even instant messaging programs, electronic offenders have an advantage in shielding their true identity. Relative anonymity perhaps frees potential and actual perpetrators from traditionally constraining pressures of society, conscience, morality, and ethics to behave in a normative manner. Also, words and actions that an individual might be ashamed or embarrassed to say or perform in a face-to-face setting are no longer off-limits or even tempered when they occur from behind a keyboard in a physically distant location from a personal or corporate victim. Many individuals may actually be emboldened when using electronic means to accomplish wrongdoing, because it perceivably requires less courage and fortitude to commit certain acts in cyberspace as compared with their counterparts in real space.


A computer may also be used as an instrument to commit a traditional crime in a high-tech manner. Criminals who use computers enjoy the same benefits as law-abiding citizens do. Namely, computers enable interaction without physical proximity and increase our capacity to process information. Consequently, computers and related technologies have the potential to simplify many traditional crimes. For example, producers of child pornography have replaced expensive cameras and complicated editing equipment with home computers, digital cameras, and point-and-click graphics software.

The Internet, as compared to face-to-face exchanges and postal mail, provides child pornographers with a faster and more anonymous means to distribute pictures and videos.

E-mail, chat rooms, instant messengers, newsgroups, online message boards, and Web sites have been used by stalkers to send harassing and threatening messages. For example, Allan Munn was convicted of aggravated harassment by the Criminal Court of the City of New York for posting a message to an Internet newsgroup that threatened to kill Lieutenant Steven Biegel of the New York City Police Department (New York v. Munn, 1999). The facelessness of cyberspace allows offenders to send threatening messages under the guise of a fictitious screen name or pseudonym.

Computer technologies can also be used as instruments for theft and fraud. Home computers, recordable CD and DVD drives, and the Internet facilitate, for example, the unlawful duplication and distribution of copyrighted material (e.g., music, movies, and ...
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