International review of criminal policy - Nos. 43 and 44/Victim cooperation in reporting computer crime

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E. Victim cooperation in reporting computer crime

222. In paragraph 30, the term "dark figure" was briefly discussed. All studies in this area have indicated that the true extent of computer-related crime in unknown, since most crimes are either not detected or are not reported to the responsible authorities. The inability or reluctance of victims to identify incidents of computer crime must be addressed.

223. International studies have examined the relation behind this reluctance, evident particularly in the financial sector, to report computer crime. Loss of consumer confidence in a particular business and in its management can lead to even greater economic loss that that caused by the crime itself. In addition, many managers fear personal repercussion if responsibility for the infiltration is placed at their door. Victims have complained about the inconvenience of lengthy criminal investigations and indeed have questioned the ability of authorities to investigate the crime. These concerns, however, must be balanced by the equally important consideration that, in the absence of detection and sanction of crime, offenders will be encouraged to commit further computer-related crimes.

224. Without the cooperation of victims of computer crime, efforts to suppress computer crime, can be only partially effective. Reporting incidents of crime to authorities and society at large is necessary to discourage criminal behaviour. In response to the concerns of the business community regarding consumer confidence, it is suggested that an open, proactive approach to computer crime in fact would instill public confidence in a company's commitment to preventing and detecting crime and to protecting the interests of its investors.

225. The accurate reporting of computer crimes provides an additional benefit. The more information the law-enforcement community has on new trends in computer crime, the better it can adapt existing methods of detection to respond to them. The experience and knowledge of those responsible for investigating and processing computer crimes would be immeasurably broadened.

226. Methods to encourage victim openness have been discussed by the Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime. The report of that Committee detailed various possible strategies, ranging from legislating cooperation to creating an independent body that would provide advice and assistance to victims. While no definitive solution was chosen, there was a consensus that reporting of crimes would promote public confidence in the ability of the law-enforcement and judicial communities to detect, investigate and prevent compute-related crime.

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