Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
Since the conception of the internet, the intentions of users have grown more devious. In the beginning, what appeared to be toy is now often used to commit crimes. When the internet first arrived in homes across America, it was not often used as a tool to hurt others. At most, it was a novelty. However, as time progressed, individuals began to see all the potential held within the internet. A person could go anywhere, do anything, and be anybody. While this must have been exhilarating, it has also proved dangerous. It is difficult to believe at times that some once speculated on whether or not the internet would even be successful, yet now here we are in present day, and many law enforcement hours are devoted to cybercrime. Whether it consists of bullying and harassment, credit card fraud, character defamation, or many other crimes one can commit while on the internet, cybercrime is forcing lawmakers to stay vigilant and create a new brand of justice, here at home, as well as internationally.
Cybercrime has been an emerging and strengthening branch of crime for the past fifteen years. Once users began to realize the internet could be used to disguise themselves as they stole and hurt others, they used it to their advantage. Unfortunately, the criminals only keep getting smarter, using the internet to their advantage as they pillage and plunder. What started as harmless trolling can now literally ruin a person’s life and livelihood. Online access makes it easier for users to commit credit fraud, steal from banks, run human trafficking services, and perform many other illegal activities, according to, “Digital Evidence and Computer Crime: Forensic Science, Computers and the Internet .” Most recently, cybercrime has begun to allow children access to bully one another. These incidences were, to begin with, not considered a crime but, as stated in, “Emerging Issues in Child and Adolescent Health: Social Media, Sexting, and Cyberbullying,” cyberbullying and other adolescent activity has gotten so out of hand it has reached unlawful proportions . Children like Megan Meier and Tyler Clementi were harrassed so relentlessly while online they saw no way out, and eventually took their own lives. Jessica Logan texted a nude photo to her boyfriend in 2011. He later used the internet to upload the photo, making it viral. There is no way to know how many people saw Logan’s nude photos, but the bullying and harassment she endured also fored her to believe there was no way out but suicide. Cybercrime takes many shapes, and in some cases is capable of taking human lives. It is important that is stopped.
Unfortunately, because there are so many instances when the act of cybercrime is new, there are often no laws to protect victims against its affects. In the cases of the three teenages who committed suicide due to their bullying and harassment, laws had to be enacted so bureaucratic structures, i.e. the police, could be of any service to those who were suffering, as stated in Larry K. Gaines and Viktor E. Kappeler’s, “Policing America .” The Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act, for example, was proposed in 2009 in an effort to help give police the authority to stop cyberbullying once it started. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass. Concerning the decentralized enforcement of law, Tyler Clementi’s death brought about the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which gave schools the power to expand anti-bullying programs and educate students on bullying. The bill also required higher education establishments to have anti-harassment policies apart from the local law’s jurisdiction. Because she was 18 at the time, Logan never received so much as an apology or her photo, sent in confidence, being sent to all corners of the internet. Even now, after countless scenarios sounding eerily like this, there is nothing in place to protect a woman who is trying to openly share her form with only one person, further pushing the victimization of the gender.
These changes made to bureaucratic and decentralized law enforcement on cybercrime were not so different from the policing performed against traditional crime. The primary difference is that tradition policing has more of an impact when in relation to traditional crimes not perpetrated on the internet. For example, if a child is being bullied in a schoolyard and starts a fight, it is simple enough to decide which child is responsible for the fight and which one should be punished. Similarly, if a criminal steals a woman’s purse in broad daylight on the street, it is easy to see who stole her purse, and even catch him. Law enforcement can then for him to give back the money and make him face the consequences of his actions. The impact of policing and law enforcement on traditional crime is, in a word, simple, when compared to policing and law enforcement in cyberspace. The internet allows one to cloak themselve as the bully, steal, and pass nude photographs or defame another individuals character. Over time, there has been speculation over whether the individuals in the computer screen are even arguably “real” whem compared to the criminals walking the streets, commiting traditional crime. There are times, however, when cybercrime, and street crime meet, and law enforcement must reconcile that the people are real while adjusting their methods to bring culprits to justice.
According to, “The Laws and Economics of Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Sex Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation,” written by Niklas Jakobssen and Andreas Kotsadam, international human trafficking is one of the least policed, but most damaging crimes in the world . More importantly, over 50% of the people lured into the sex trafficking trade, and nearly 85% of the clientelle, use the internet as a portal for services. The exchange of money even takes place as a cyber transaction in many cases, while the physical act itself takes place at another location. Money never changes hands, meaning by the laws of many countries, that the act of prostitution is technically not taking place . Law enforcement must be willing to operate on the terms of the criminal by catching them through their cyber transactions and computer records, rather than arresting them on the streets for procuring sexual favors, since no money is involved in the final physical action .
Though cybercrime has manifested itself into a viable resource for criminals, and bratty children, law enforcement still does not appear to take it seriously. People have money stolen, are lured into sex trafficking, and children are even bullied into killing themselves. Still, law enforcement only half-heartedly attempt to combat these real threats to society. It is almost as if they wait for the crime to manifest physically so they can react to it. If any changes were made to this, it would be made to the approach law enforcement take to cybercrime. They must attack cybercrime with the same ferocity as they do traditional crimes and realize that those who have been wronged on a computer, have also been wronged in real life. As such, they deserve the same protection.
In sum, cybercrime is a serious issue that is befalling people across the globe. Harassment and cyberbulling have become a greater issue in recent years. Cyberspace also makes it simpler for pimps to recruit individuals into the sex trafficking market. Because most of the monetary transactions are done online, sometimes days before the physical interaction takes place, it cannot even be called prostitution. Though these and other crimes are very serious, law enforcement seem at a loss about how to defend the innocent against cyber crime. It is as though they wait until the crime is committed in the traditional way before it is taken seriously. New laws have been brought before the government, but are often not enacted, or only enacted if they pass responsibility off on to lesser establishments, such as schools. Cybercrime is happening every minute, and it is serious. It is time law enforcement saw it that way too.
Acosta, A. B., & Temple, J. R. (2013). Emerging Issues in Child and Adolescent Health: Social Media, Sexting, and Cyberbullying. Baylor College of Medicine.
Carter, J. W. (2011). Local Law Enforcement in the Realm of Cyberspace: The Role of Local Law Enforcement Agencies in Controlling Internet Crime. Columbus: University of Ohio.
Casey, E. (2011). Digital Evidence and Computer Crime: Forensic Science, Computers and the Internet. Chicago: Academic Press.
Gaines, L. K., & Kappeler, V. E. (2011). Policing in America. London: Routledge.
Jakobsson, N., & Kotsadam, A. (2013). The law and economics of international sex slavery: prostitution laws and trafficking for sexual exploitation. European Journal of Law and Economics, 87-107.