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The spread of identity theft: Developments and initiatives within the European Union

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Cyberspace provides a potent safety net for terrorists as its under-regulated spaces allow for a variety of illegal acts in support of terrorist activities. As traditional sources for terrorist funding have come under increased scrutiny and control, terrorists and other paramilitary organizations have increasingly turned to other illegal avenues for their fund raising activities. While high level crimes, such as drug running and human trafficking, have received increased attention, the threat to global security of such “low level” crimes as digital piracy, phishing and identify theft remain largely ignored. This article explores the growing evidence that “personal” crimes such as digital piracy, counterfeiting, phishing and digital fraud are being used to fund terrorists’ activities. It examines the digital safety net in which these crimes exist, created by a mix of cultural and economic factors that have undervalued the global security threat of these crimes. After comparing current international enforcement efforts, in the United States, the European Union and India, with a focus on cyberfraud and digital piracy laws, this article suggests a multidisciplinary, transborder approach for reducing this safety net and enhancing global security within the context of broader counter-terrorist efforts. Such approach, however, must be a nuanced one to avoid having prosecution of so-called “victimless” or “personal” crimes become new methods for locking up information or violating hard fought individual rights.
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