Criminality, Security and Justice in Cyber Space.

The criminalisation of dual (civil and military) use software: reflections from a comparative perspective.

The ‘hacking’ of Talk Talk, Ashley Madison and other recent attacks on online data systems have once again raised the media profile of cyber-crime and security and have led to calls for more laws and stronger data rules. But to what extent can these high profile cases actually help us to understand the complexities of addressing a criminal justice response to various forms of online activity? To what extent, for example, is the quest for control by authority beginning to shift the focus on crime back from actions to thoughts, to a point where we are beginning to reverse the burden of proof and undermine some of the basic principles of Law.

To address these and other questions the Security and Justice Research Group is pleased to invite you to a seminar focussing on the issue of criminalisation and cyber space. The event will hear presentations from two researchers actively working in this area. Maureen Johnson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Hertfordshire and is currently completing her PhD at Durham University on the rise of the inchoate offences in the ‘cyber control society’. Dr Ivan Salvadori is a based in the School of Law at the University of Verona and currently a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at Leeds. Ivan is conducting comparative research around preparatory criminal law offences in areas including cybercrime and terrorism. Acting as a discussant for both presentations is Professor David Wall from the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies in the School of Law here at Leeds where he researches and teaches on cybercrime. He is currently undertaking RCUK funded research into Cybercrime and Cybersecurity and also on Policing Cybercrime in the Cloud.

All are welcome.


I think, therefore I commit crime: the rise of the communication offences in the control society

Maureen Johnson – Senior lecturer – University of Hertfordshire, School of Law.

The dimension of criminal law is expanding to include not just overt actions, but speech and beliefs that we may consider to be protected in our liberal democracy.  The decreasing demarcation between criminal justice and the state is leading criminal statute to abandon cherished concepts such as the mens rea requirement and the presumption of innocence, and the freedom we have to communicate our ideas and beliefs is being curtailed.  This paper will ask if such criminalisation is capable of justification, or is at risk of imprisoning the young, the fantasist and the foolish on the basis of who they are rather than what they have done. A brief analysis of recent statute, case law and sanctions will enable us to reflect on the extent of the restrictions imposed against a background of modern day folk devils such as child abusers and terrorists and the new medium of crime in cyberspace, and consider whether the concept of criminalisation of communication is a natural extension of normative legal standards into the next strata of the projected self, or a blurring of the outlines of intelligence and evidence which will dictate earlier and earlier intervention (by the state) to reduce purported criminal opportunity.


The criminalisation of dual (civil and military) use software: reflections from a comparative perspective.

Dr Ivan Salvadori, School of Law, University of Verona.

Every day thousands of new malicious forms of software (i.e. malware, spyware, hacking tools, etc.) are created to carry out cyber attacks, economic crimes and offences against confidentiality, integrity and the availability of data and computer systems. These devices and tools are easily, quickly and often freely available on the Internet, which constitutes a strong incentive to acquire them for illegal purposes. To combat such dangers the Council of Europe and European Union have recommended the member States prohibit their production, sale, distribution, procurement and also mere possession. As such, during the last few years European countries have introduced new legislation regarding these devices and tools. This criminalization of ‘malicious’ software lacks public debate. Such software can be used for legal purposes. For example, such software is normally produced and used by companies to test the reliability and strength of their information technology products or the security of information systems. An indiscriminate criminalization of ‘dual-use’ software could therefore deter the IT development and the improvement of the security of computer systems. This presentation will analyse and compare how European Member States have implemented the EU and CoE obligations to criminalize malicious software and explore the extent to which they are striking a balance between the criminalization and the safeguarding of the legitimate activities of end users and of IT security experts.