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Definitions and general information

Computer crime

A number of terms are sometimes used interchangeably to describe crimes committed using computers.

Computer related crime
The use of a computer is integral to committing the offence. Examples are offences such as computer-related forgery (where false data are put forward as authentic) and computer related fraud (the fraudulent interference with or manipulation of data to cause property loss).
Computer crime
This is a general label for offences in which a computer is the object of the offence or the tool for its commission.
Internet crime
Refers to crimes in which the use of the internet is a key feature and includes content-related offences such as possession of child pornography, or in some countries, the dissemination of hate or racist material.
A general label for offences committed using an electronic data storage or communications device.


Statute and treaty law both refer to cybercrime. In Australia, cybercrime has a narrow statutory meaning as used in the Cybercrime Act 2001 (Cwlth), which details offences against computer data and systems. However, a broad meaning is given to cybercrime at an international level. In the Council of Europe's Cybercrime Treaty (EST no. 185), cybercrime is used as an umbrella term to refer to an array of criminal activity including offences against computer data and systems, computer-related offences, content offences, and copyright offences. This wide definition of cybercrime overlaps in part with general offence categories that need not be ICT dependent, such as white-collar crime and economic crime as described in Grabosky P & Sutton A 1989, Stains on a white collar. Sydney: Federation Press.

High tech crime

High tech crime is a common label used by both the Australian High Tech Crime Centre and by the National High Tech Crime Unit in the United Kingdom. These agencies deal with crimes that rely on the use of ICT, or which target ICT equipment, data and services. Their focus is on the complex networking capacity of ICT, which creates a previously unimaginable platform for committing and investigating criminal activity.

High tech emphasises the role of ICT in the commission of the offence. Different practical considerations arise according to whether ICT equipment, services or data are the object of the offence, or whether ICT is the tool for the commission of a 'material component of the offence'.

Source: Krone T 2005. Concepts and terms, High tech crime brief no. 1, 2005

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