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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: July 2013

2 - Cybercrimes and cyberlaw


Case studies

Mary and Tom met on a social networking site and began a friendship exchanging regular messages. After a number of months Tom suggested an offline meeting. Mary was not keen on the idea but after telling Tom he became quite upset and aggressive and began sending abusive messages to her. Mary became quite distressed and nervous about going online. In the end she had to change all of her online profiles and email addresses and was considered by her doctor to be showing some signs of stress.

John had been playing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for a number of months. In addition to investing a good deal of time in gaining a proficiency in the game, John had also spent over £150 on in-game artefacts and additional features. On his most recent visit to the online world he found that some of these goods had been stolen by another player. John was unsure about what if anything he could do about it.

Chapter overview

The first section of this chapter seeks to define the nature of online crime or cybercrime and look at the ways in which society is responding to it. We go on to look at the response and its multi-faceted nature. Governments attempt to respond with law, corporations with policies and procedures, suppliers with terms and conditions, users with peer pressure and technologists with code. The third section looks at how international laws have evolved through what is referred to as ‘soft law’ and seeks to draw lessons for the evolution of laws for the internet. The fourth section looks at the more general area of governance, examining how ideas of governance have evolved and how some of the theoretical work in this field may offer guidance for the governance of the internet. The final section examines the emerging role of social networking in online governance.

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Additional reading
Brooke, H. (2011). The Revolution will be Digitised. London: William Heinemann.
Hands, J. (2011). @ is for Activism. London: Pluto Press.
Henman, P. (2010). Governing Electronically. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Loader, D. and Mercea, D. (2012). Social Media and Democracy: Innovations in Participatory Politics. Oxford and New York: Routledge.
BBC News (31 March 2005). Game theft led to fatal attack. Technology. Retrieved from .
(14 November 2007). ‘Virtual theft’ leads to arrest. Technology. Retrieved from .
Emigh, J. (24 October 2008). Online gamer arrested for ‘virtual murder’ in Japan. Betanews. Retrieved from .
Guardian, The (24 October 2008). Japanese woman faces jail over online murder. Retrieved from .
Irish Times, The (10 October 2008). Woman faces jail for hacking her virtual husband to death. Retrieved from .
Morris, S. (14 November 2008). Internet affair leads to couple's real life divorce. The Guardian. Retrieved from .
Reuters (30 March 2005). Gamer gets life for murder over virtual sword. CNET. Retrieved from .
Truta, F. (18 January 2008). Russia – gamer kills gamer over gamer killing gamer . . . er, in-game! Softpedia. Retrieved from .