May 16 2008
This is a long article and will need to be done in at least two parts (three?), along with a lot of gisting. It came out yesterday on Chinacourt.org and provides an in-depth look at the drivers pushing juvenile cybercrime in China:
Analysis: Juvenile Cybercrime Causes and Prevention
In the past few years, following the rapid expansion of the internet in our country (China), the internet has become a daily part of many people’s lives and an intrical component. According to statistics, in 2007, the number of online users in our country (China) reached 162 million people with juvenile users accounting for 85.8% of that figure. Furthermore, among the country’s juvenile users, 13.2% have become addicts and another 13% manifest internet addiction tendencies. The highest proportion of internet addiction occurs in 17.1% of juvenile users from the ages of 13 to 17. While the internet has the prospect of bringing happiness and creating large amounts of wealth, it also introduces enticements and sin. According to statistical data, 90% of juveniles go online to play games, while the rest use it to chat or browse unhealthy websites. Browsing unhealthy websites and playing online games is either the direct or indirect cause of juvenile crime. This article, will analyze the manifestation of juvenile cybercrime, exploring all of the causes that entice it, in order to have a beneficial discussion on countermeasures to prevent juvenile cybercrime. First, the manifestation and characteristics of juvenile cybercrime: Following the application and development of computer network technology, the youth have clearly become the majority of internet users and cybercrime has become a new phenomenon of juvenile criminals. Due to the psychological immaturity of youth, they unhesitatingly throw themselves into the internet, becoming excessively dependent and turn into “electronic heroin junkies.” Not only has the internet taken away their thirst for knowledge and kindheartedness, it has also robbed them of their precious youth. From investigations into cybercriime cases over the last couple of years, Chinese juvenile cybercrime manifests itself in these forms:
- The internet is used to carry out traditional types of crime such as theft, ransom, injury, fraud, robbery…etc. The virtual nature of the internet provides an artificial space and convenient channel for juvenile to carry out crimes. They can very easily hide their true identity, address…etc, to carry out criminal activity.
- The internet is used to infringe on public information security. The youth are vigorous thinkers and absorb new technology and skills quickly. Because they try to outdo others for supremacy, young people are constantly, without authorization, hacking into critical sections of the public information system, national political and economic departments or the military, stealing state and commercial secrets.
- The internet is used to manufacture and disseminate network viruses. There are different motivations why the youth manufacture and disseminate viruses; some do it for revenge, as a temporary interest, a bet, or for people to use. Nevertheless, the ability to create harm is very great. We still clearly recall the 2006 “Case of the Panda Burning Incense virus” that shocked the entire nation. In a short two months, the virus infected/destroyed millions of individual users, internet cafes and businesses and had serious consequences. Furthermore, the age of the primary suspects in the case were all around 20 years of age.
- The internet is used to produce, disseminate and sell obscene material, engaging in internet pornographic crime. On one hand, youth are the largest victims of internet pornography. However, on and on the other, some youth not only browse pornographic webpages, they disseminate and sell obscene material. The victims of pornography then turn to become the main perpetrators. For example, the culprit who caused the national sensation surrounding the first major pornographic website case “99 Pornographic Forum” was barely 19 years-old.
Juvenile cybercrime manifests itself in many forms and its characteristics have a distinct quality. Viewed as a new type of criminal activity, juvenile cybercrime is not only as socially hazardous as other crimes, it should also receive legal punishment. At the same time, it does possess its own characteristics:
- The tendency is for the people to be young and possess high IQs. Cybercriminal elements have a tendency to be young, most between the ages of 16 to 17. They have a high school background; skilled computer operators who know how to use computers and are familiar with network architecture, function, and theory; and they have professional understanding of the internet. Some of these youth use their specialized computer technology and manipulation skills to commit cybercrimes. The methods used to commit these crimes are very ingenious and show a high IQ trait.
- The ability to hide and anonymity of cybercrime makes it a very difficult problem to investigate. The internet is a virtual digitized world with cybercrime carried out by mean of manipulation. On the internet, individual identities are represented by numbers and time and spacial scope are difficult to restrict. It is difficult for the staff to get concrete proof of the crimes making the investigation very difficult.
- The criminal methods are many and varied, they are also socially hazardous. Some of the young people use their grasp of computer knowledge and technology to carry out various types crimes for example; internet fraud, theft, privacy violations and the release of false information. This makes the criminal cases confusing and time consuming to solve. Additonally, with the unceasing rate of computer popularity, the country and citizen are becoming more and more dependent on computers and internet. The targets of Juvenile cybercrime often have direct relations with the national economy, people’s livelihood, and the national security computer information system. The losses are even greater than those from conventional crime.
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