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Copyright (c) 2009 American Criminal Law Review
American Criminal Law Review


Spring, 2009

American Criminal Law Review

46 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 315





This Article discusses federal, state, and international developments in computer-related criminal law. This Section defines computer crimes. Section II covers the constitutional issues concerning computer crimes. Section III describes the federal approaches used for prosecuting computer crime, and analyzes enforcement strategies. Section IV examines state approaches to battling computer crime and the resulting federalism issues. Lastly, Section V addresses international approaches to regulating computer crimes.

A. Defining Computer Crime

The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") broadly defines computer crime as "any violations of criminal law that involve a knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation, or prosecution." 1 Because of the diversity of computer-related offenses, a narrower definition would be inadequate. While the term "computer crime" includes traditional crimes committed with the use of a computer, 2 the rapid emergence of computer technologies and the exponential expansion of the Internet 3 spawned a variety of new, technology-specific criminal behaviors that must also be included in the category of "computer crimes." 4 To combat these new criminal behaviors, Congress passed specialized legislation. 5

Experts have had difficulty calculating the damage caused by computer crimes due to: the difficulty in adequately defining "computer crime;" 6 victims' reluctance to report incidents for fear of losing customer confidence; 7 the dual system of prosecution; 8 and the lack of detection. 9 In 2006, DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division conducted a joint effort to estimate the number of cyber attacks and the ...
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