Cyber crime and computer crimes – Crumbles
Cybercrime is a relatively new reality, as a result of globalization, the exponential increase in the use of information technology, the evolution of programming languages and the flow of data through the worldwide network: the Internet.1
As the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice explains, crime is influenced by globalization and the whole process that facilitates trade and integration among nations also implies radical changes in the dynamics of crime and violence, as “technologies that enable significant improvements in human lives are used and those who break the law, commit crimes and defy justice.two
Mass use of devices such as computers, pills and smart phones that process and store data, while expanding and democratizing access Internetenabled malicious persons to start using computer tools and access to the world wide web to exploit in various ways the unwillingness and ignorance of the vast majority of users and gain some kind of undue advantage through secret access to user information, financial data, photos and videos stored or shared.
Computer devices and their various communication applications have begun to be widely used as instruments in the practice of traditional crimes such as embezzlement, threats, theft, defamation, incitement, racism, etc.
Along with the use of computers and Internet devices to commit common crimes, so-called computer crimes have also evolved in severity and consequences. If at the beginning of this century, the concern was about acts of pedophilia that were shared on the Internet and about unauthorized access to personal data by spyware or malware forwarded by e-mail or other types of electronic messages, the number of cases is currently on the rise ransomwareor computer extortion, scares corporations3 and governments around the world.4
These pernicious acts, even before the passage of specific laws, are called “computer crimes” or “cybercrimes”, terms that have remained in public use.5
In recent years, especially as a result of the physical isolation imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the activities of specialized people (or not so much) who seek to unjustifiably gain some kind of advantage or even sexual pleasure, using their computers or smart phones in the comfort of their homes or anywhere else with internet access.6
This reality imposes a new orientation and interpretation of criminal legislation. Computer crime or cybercrime, a consequence of the modern world, is different from that of the past. ON iter criminals with temporal and spatial delimitation remained obsolete. Scientists are still trying to establish hermeneutic parameters for this form of crime, and legal science, always on the trail of reality, is adapting to face this new phenomenon.
As Spencer Sydow explains:8
Criminal law and criminal procedural law suffered and are suffering strong and direct influences of information technology on a daily basis, but still without a proper adaptation of traditional dogmatics, there is even room for rethinking basic principles. Technology is changing the way we look at forensic science theory as it transforms concepts from the inside out. Intangibility becomes a standard circumstance, as does encryption and anonymity; the existence of electronic devices physically removes the agent from the behavior, creating a sense of distance and indirect practice.
By concept, cybercrimes include behavior described and punishable by a criminal penalty provided by law, which: I) cause damage to computer equipment or systems, ii) that enable secret access to data stored on computer devices directly or via the Internet and iii) criminal behavior that uses computer equipment or the Internet as an instrument or means of its execution, although, in the latter case, the crime may be practiced in a different way.7
In this sense, cybercrime and computer crime can be classified as pure or legitimate when they want to harm the computer systems of individuals or companies. So-called “computer risk” crimes are part of this category, since they aim at unauthorized access to data stored or typed in computer equipment, access to data stored on hard drives or in “clouds”, directly or by using the spread of “viruses.” (spyware, malware) with consequent damage to the functioning of computer systems.8 Mixed, impure or inappropriate offenses would be criminal conduct that uses computer and internet equipment during iter criminals, in preparatory actions or as a means of execution in criminal offenses whose legal objects are not related to a computer system or the Internet. Therefore, it is currently common to use social media applications with the exchange of messages and data to practice crimes that we can consider “traditional”, such as theft and embezzlement, crimes against honor, sexual, incitement and apologetics, racism and even crimes against life, such as inducing or encouraging suicide.
In short, cybercrime and pure or proprietary computer crimes can only be committed using technological resources and mainly affect computer devices and information or telematics systems; while the impure or inappropriate use information technology as mode of operation criminal offense, but they can also be carried out by other means.9
Faced with the exponential growth of this type of crime, countries could not remain inert and produced changes at the legislative level, both in private and public law, especially in criminal law, with adaptations and innovations regarding the new phenomenon.