Cybercrime Technical Non-Offenses: Cybervigilantism and Hacktivism - Computer Definition
Two activities that often give rise to criminal prosecutions but do not themselves constitute cybercrimes are cybervigilantism and hacktivism. In the conventional world, neither vigilantism (the act of enforcing targeted others to pay a penalty for breaking the law even though the party who attempts the enforcing does not have the legal authority to do so) nor political activism are, in themselves, crimes. For these reasons, cybervigilantism (using a computer to conduct acts of vigilantism) and hacktivism (using a computer and hacking skills to accomplish political activism objectives)—the cyberspace versions of vigilantism and political activism, respectively—are also technically not designated as crimes. They are therefore known to be technical non-offenses.
However, even though the law has never recognized a crime called “vigilantism,” vigilantes are sometimes prosecuted for other recognized offenses—such as homicide or assault—that they execute while forcing other people to obey the law. A similar parallel could be drawn for political activists; they could illegally trespass onto another’s property and cause damage to the property, a crime for which they could be prosecuted. It is likely, therefore, that cybervigilantes and hacktivists could face penalties for other crimes deemed to be punishable by law.
See Also: Cybercrimes and Cybercriminals.
Brenner, S. Is There Such a Thing as ‘Virtual Crime’? California Criminal Law Review. [Online, 2001.] California Criminal Law Review Website. http://www.boalt.org/ CCLR/v4/v4brenner.htm; Schell, B.H. and Martin, C. 2004. Contemporary World Issues Series: Cybercrime: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.