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Saturday, February 25, 2006

What is Computer or Internet crime?

There is no formal definition of computer crime or Internet crime. However, this type of crime may be described as an activity in which a computer or the Internet is used to further a criminal purpose. Simply put, it’s an offence involving the use of a computer or the Internet.

The possession and distribution of child pornography are examples of crimes that can be committed with the aid of computers and the Internet. The offence of mischief in relation to data doesn’t specifically refer to either the term computers or Internet in its definition. However, today’s reality is that data is stored on computers. Other crimes such as fraud, criminal harassment, and uttering threats may also be committed with the aid of these devices. There are many more. However, there is no mention of computers or the Internet in the definitions of any of these offences. Therefore, they can also be committed outside the world of computers and the Internet.

There are, however, offences that specifically address certain types of computer and Internet behaviour. As an example, it is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada to fraudulently obtain any computer service or possess a device designed primarily to fraudulently obtain computer service. In 2002, amendments were made to the sections of the Criminal Code dealing with child pornography. These amendments now specify both transmitting and accessing child pornography as offences. These changes were created to deal with Internet activity. Another amendment to the Criminal Code enacted in 2002 deals with the luring of children “by means of a computer system”.

Criminal Code provisions also allow for the issuance of search warrants in relation to child pornography, hate propaganda, or other evidence with respect to the commission of an offence stored on a computer system.

As society’s reliance on computers and the Internet continues to grow, so does the need to protect it through the making and enforcement of criminal laws in relation to computer and Internet activity. Therefore, it is inevitable that the courts will continue to see a growing number of prosecutions of computer and Internet crimes working their way through the criminal justice system.


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