Over the last two decades the prevalence of cybercrime has increased rapidly and has become part of the everyday life of citizens. In general, two types of cybercrimes are distinguished: 1. new types of crimes which are aimed at Information Technology (IT) and committed through the use of IT (e.g. hacking) and 2. traditional crimes which are not focused on IT, but for which IT is essential to commit the offence (e.g. fraud via the internet). Digitization has consequences for various types of crime and raises all sorts of questions. For example, are we dealing with a new type of offender? How can potential victims made more resilient? And which interventions against cybercrime are effective?
At the 2016 annual meetings of the European Society of Criminology in Muenster, Germany, there were at least twenty-six (26) presentations examining topics that all fell under the term “cyber” (the word cyber appeared somewhere in the title or abstract), including but not limited to computer hacking, phishing, online fraud, cyber war, organized cybercrime, cyber espionage, cyber bullying, sexting, online sexual abuse the overlap between cyber and traditional offending, and UK constables’ perceptions of cybercrime. There were likely other presentations involving the impact of ICT on either offending, victimization, or public policy, though they did not use that key term in the title or abstract. There also appeared to be twenty-six (26) presentations that contained the term ‘cyber’ in their title or abstract at the 2015 ESC meetings held in Porto, Portugal. These trends in presentations demonstrate the strong interest in cyber within the field of criminology, and suggest that the number of cyber presentations will continue to grow as our reliance on technology grows. Similar trends can be observed in other academic conferences such as the American Society of Criminology, as well as the increasing number of unique conferences focusing solely on cybercrime around the world.
Aims & Objectives
The primary goals of the European Society of Criminology Working Group on Cybercrime are:
Advancing knowledge and research on cybercrime and cybersecurity across Europe (both substantively and methodologically) and other parts of the world, including the United States, the Middle East, and Asia, with plans to expand to other parts of the world.
Creating a network for information exchange and international collaboration between leading scholars, starting scholars, graduate students, government agencies, and private organizations involved in cybercrime research.
These goals are reached through the following tasks:
Holding regular meetings of core members
Coordinating “Cybercrime” sessions at ESC annual meetings
Initiating and coordinating special issues on cybercrime in the European Journal of Criminology
Establishing cross-national research ties and promote international collaboration
Organizing European conferences on cybercrime
Dissemination of scholarly publications
We recognize and fully support the diversity of interests within the field of cybercrime and cybersecurity. The working group will encourage all scholars interested in cybercrime to join, regardless of their focus on the causes of cybercrime criminality, the impact of victimization, or the regulations and enforcement to address it. In addition, the working group is interested in bringing scholars together who have different interdisciplinary backgrounds, including but not limited to: criminal justice and criminology, law, sociology, political science, economics, information technology, and computer science. We will not restrict the working group to any specific methodology as scholars study cybercrime through both qualitative and quantitative means and in fact we hope that our working group will encourage the advancement of innovative data collection and analytic techniques in our field. As our field grows, it is our hope that the working group will help international collaborations integrate our knowledge that derives from different methodologies rather than qualitative and quantitative scholars traveling down separate paths.
In addition to academic scholars, the working group will also recruit government agencies, particularly law enforcement agencies and government research offices, to join the working group in order to increase data collection, expertise to the working group, and dissemination possibilities (i.e. getting our research into the hands of policy makers and legislative bodies). Over the last several years, scholars have engaged in direct productive partnerships with, among others, the UK Home Office, the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, and the High Tech Crime Units of the Dutch police and prosecutors office.