Computer Crimes versus Traditional Crimes

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Computer Crimes versus Traditional Crimes

A computer hacker can steal more with a computer than a weapon. For example, internet auction fraud (i.e., EBay) was by far the most reported offense, comprising 44.9% complaints as opposed to check fraud which made up 4.9% complaints.1 It is my opinion that many crimes involving computers are the same as crimes committed without one and that the computer is just a tool to help aide the criminal in committing the offense. Stealing is a crime and should not be considered different just because a computer is involved. Computer crimes are no different from other crimes, and computer criminals should be held responsible for the damage they cause.

In order to determine if computer crimes are the same as non-computer crimes, we must first define what crime is. The broad definition of crime is an offense against public law and the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous,2 but there are several types of crime. For instance, robbery is the taking of another’s property either by force or fear with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Crimes, such as fraud, theft (including identity theft), forgery, and embezzlement, can occur in both the traditional sense (without a computer) or in a more contemporary sense in which computers are used to facilitate the illegal activity. Computer crime, or cyber crime, has been defined as a crime in which a computer plays an essential part. This type of crime is the illegal exploitation of computer technologies most often involving the Internet.

In a relatively short period of time, we as a society have witnessed an explosion of technological computer advancements. For instance, today there are over 5 million computers permanently attached to the Internet and at least that many which are only sporadically online compared to only 200 in 1983.3 Based on this wide spread use of the internet, the United States government is desperately attempting to define what constitutes cyber crime and the appropriate punishment associated with the crime. It is very tough to apply the consequences of many of the computer crimes that are being done each day because it is such a recent problem in society. In time I believe it will be much easier to determine who and how people are going about doing illegal activities online, but as of now we don’t have the technology or time to catch all those hackers out there.

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