Cyberterrorism and Computer Crimes: Issues Surrounding the Establishment of an International Legal Regime   [open pdf - 575KB]

In its broadest sense, information warfare includes such time-honored and accepted practices as deception and misdirection, long recognized as legal ruses under the law of war and surely not the proper subjects of treaty limitation. The international community has long decried terrorism even though that community has been unable to agree on what is encompassed by the term. Domestically, terrorism is defined under two separate statutory sections both requiring violence or the threat to or taking of human life for political ends. Such a definition excludes the vast number of information attacks, otherwise denominated as terroristic, which would only result in large-scale financial losses, electrical power grid shutdowns, or mass chaos caused by the manipulation or destruction of information databases. Even the definition of computer crime has been hard to pin down. The Department of Justice has defined it as broadly as "any violations of criminal law that involve a knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation or prosecution." But certainly as prosecutors and law enforcement investigative units become increasingly technological, computer technology will be employed in the prosecution and/or investigation of virtually any crime. A new cyber crime treaty could help provide the basis for criminalizing the vast array of cyber offenses that do not cleanly fit within traditional crimes. It would also aid extraditions by overcoming the dual criminality problem. Even more importantly, a new treaty could establish agreed principles of enforcement jurisdiction to enable law enforcement to more quickly, easily, and legally obtain the evidence necessary for the prosecution of cyber crimes and information terrorism.

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INSS Occasional Paper 32, Information Operations Series
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