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Transnational and organised crime

The global nature of information technology enables criminal activity to be truly transnational. That is, a person sitting in Spain can disable a computer in Singapore, or disseminate child pornography in Swaziland. Additional problems arise from the difficulty of exercising national sovereignty over capital and information flows. Jurisdictional issues may arise from transborder online transmission. If an online financial newsletter originating in Albania contains fraudulent speculation about the prospects of a company whose shares are traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, where has the offence occurred?

The globalisation of crime poses further problems, as the cost of investigating and prosecuting transnational crime may be prohibitive in all but the most serious cases. Sovereign governments are finding it difficult to exercise control over online behaviour at home, not to mention abroad. A resident of Chicago who falls victim to a telemarketing scam originating in Albania, for example, can expect little assistance from law enforcement agencies in either jurisdiction. As a result, regulation by territorially-based rules may prove to be inappropriate for some types of offences.

Of equal concern is the lack of international consensus on what constitutes criminal behaviour. What is treasonous in Tibet, or blasphemous in Bangladesh, is protected in Philadelphia. New international arrangements are being crafted to address these issues. Will they be adequate to meet the challenge?

Source: Grabosky P 1998. Crime and technology in the global village, paper presented at the Internet crime conference, 16-17 Feb 1998

See also (broader topic): Transnational and organised crime

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