Posted: March 30th, 2022
Wide Web, an addition of online users resulted in both good and bad individuals. With increasing data online, the chances of it being misused increased as people got more technologically aware. Since the internet provides people with anonymity and complex ways of broaching personal privacy and data bounds, the legal ramifications had to be considered by regulators. Delineating the boundaries of cyber law became increasingly important in order to protect users online.
What is Cyberspace Law?
The Cyberspace law, also known as the cyber law, is a piece of legislation that regulates transactions and communications over the Internet or over other interconnected devices and technologies. This legislation protects members of the public, particularly internet users from illegal activities by hackers and other persons or entities with ill-intentions (LaMance, 2015). The law regulates several parts of the communications world including:
Freedom of expression
Electronic and mobile commerce
Problems in Prosecuting Cyber-crimes
Many laws and sections within laws dealing with unauthorized access, spamming, unauthorized utilization of wireless networks, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying did not exist over 3 decades ago. Federal and state governments had to come up with the legislations so as to tackle the issues that were bedeviling the communications industry, particularly the promising internet subsector (Shinder, 2011). Now that the legislations are in place, enforcing them has become quite difficult. In fact the difficulty or special nature of investigating cyber crimes or prosecuting has become so difficult such that many police departments have set up and dedicated special units to enforce cyber regulations. However, it is said that other police departments don’t have such divisions and because of the fact that enforcing legislation in the internet world is essentially more difficult than enforcing other conventional legislations (Shinder, 2011).
Issues with Jurisdiction
Branches of Law. In the United States, there are 3 branches of law in use: the civil law, the criminal law and regulatory law. The criminal law deals with crimes/offenses that are prosecutable by federal, state and local governments. The civil law deals with disagreements between entities. Regulatory laws are enforced by regulatory institutions over particular activities or industries.
Type of Case: in each system of law there are different courts or agencies that specifically deal with prosecuting or the trial of certain crimes.
Level of Offense: Under criminal law, different courts are assigned different jurisdictions, depending on the severity of the crime.
Monetary Damages: Within the civil law, different courts are assigned cases based on the possible monetary damages.
Government Level: in the United States, there are different laws, different court systems, and enforcement agencies for different government levels. For instance, on the federal government level, law enforcement agencies include: DEA, FBI, BATF etc., while in lower levels of government, there are municipal police, sheriffs, and state troopers or police, who enforce laws passed by the corresponding levels of government.
Prior to law enforcement, the agency investigating a cyberspace crime must ascertain that it has jurisdiction. Then, the first thing is to investigate whether the act being talked about is actually a crime. In some cases, there are no legislations in place covering a specific situation. In other cases, the crime one is accused of committing may not actually be a crime at all, but a civil matter. If it has been established that it is a criminal offense, the next thing is to determine which legislation was infringed; was it a federal law, state statue or city law, and then assigning it to the relevant investigation agency (Shinder, 2011). After that, one has to determine the geographic jurisdiction, which is a very difficult thing to do when investigating cybercrimes since the perpetrator might not be in the same town, state or even region (Shinder, 2011). Issues of jurisdiction might block or severely slow down the investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes.
There are different types of cyber crimes. They include: Computer Fraud — which is the tricking of computer users into the belief that they are buying a service or a product, which they never receive and thus lose their money; Industrial Espionage — is the theft of company secrets or other sensitive information by spying on people on the internet, it mostly involves using computers to bribe or blackmail others for corporate benefit; and the other popular type of cyber-crime is virus transmission, whereby the perpetrator sends a virus or any other type of malware to stop or prevent a computer from working normally (The Law Dictionary, 2015).
Because of increasing privacy concerns, limitations to freedom of expression and violations of intellectual property rights, outlining cyber law limits became increasingly important for regulators. However, due to many reasons, as discussed above, it is very difficult to enforce cyber law due to jurisdictional issues. Because the online world is virtual and without any boundaries and limits, these issues arose. The most common cyber-crimes include fraud, identity theft, and industrial espionage.
LaMance, K. (2015). Cyber Law. Retrieved from Legal Match: http://www.legalmatch.com/cyberspace-law-guide.html
Shinder, D. (2011, Jan). What makes cybercrime laws so difficult to enforce. Retrieved from TechRepublic: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/what-makes-cybercrime-laws-so-difficult-to-enforce/
The Law Dictionary. (2015). Most Popular Computer Crimes. Retrieved from http://thelawdictionary.org/article/most-popular-computer-crimes/
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