- Elgar European Law series
Chapter 10: Cybercrime
Criminal activity on the web takes many forms. Identities are stolen, computer systems broken into, software illicitly traded, child pornography peddled, money laundered. Share scams, botnets and keyloggers for hire, hacking, phishing, credit card fraud, espionage and political crime have marked the beginning of this century. The perpetrators are numerous and spread widely over the globe. The cost of this activity is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars1 and the figures are likely to rise as the numbers of Internet users increase, particularly in the developing world. This chapter is an outline of some of the issues that have provoked reaction at a European level. The most important one is the Cybercrime Treaty (see below), which is a Council of Europe coordinated initiative open to signature by other states. The European Union has limited capacity to legislate in the area of criminal law, which has always been regarded as a symbol of state sovereignty.2 Although the European Union is primarily a trade organization, it has partial competence to regulate criminal law. This is because crime is an obstacle to trade between Member States but also because better cooperation in criminal matters is necessary for a more stable economic and social development. Both the Maastricht (1993) and the Amsterdam (1999) Treaties introduced changes which affected criminal law to some extent, notably in the field of ‘justice and home affairs’, but the actual competence to create criminal law was lacking. Approximation of rules in criminal matters was allowed under Article 29 of the Nice Treaty (TEU 2001).
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