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)Â—the cyberspace versions of vigilantism and
political activism, respectivelyÂ—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 Â“vigilantism,Â” vigilantes are sometimes prosecuted for other recognized
offensesÂ—such as homicide or assaultÂ—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 anotherÂ’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.
Cybercrimes and Cybercriminals.
Brenner, S. Is There Such a Thing as Â‘Virtual CrimeÂ’? California Criminal Law
Review. [Online, 2001.] California Criminal Law Review Website.
CCLR/v4/v4brenner.htm; Schell, B.H. and Martin, C. 2004. Contemporary World Issues Series:
Cybercrime: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.