The engineer-criminologist and "the novelty of cybercrime"

a situated genealogical study of timesharing systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Novelty of Cybercrime is a research problem in criminology where scholars are asking whether cybercrime is a wholly new form of crime compared with traditional–terrestrial crimes and whether new criminological theories are needed to understand it. Most criminological theories focus on the human rational aspects and downplay the role of non-humans in explaining what may be novel in cybercrime. This paper shows that a sociotechnical perspective can be developed for understanding the Novelty of Cybercrime using some insights from criminology. Working from the agnosticism principle of Actor-Network Theory and a situated genealogical perspective, it is possible to see that a criminological vocabulary can accommodate both the roles and relations of rational human and non-human actors. This is achieved by proposing the concept of the engineer–criminologist, developed by conducting a study of the development of information security for timesharing systems in the 1960s and 1970s. Timesharing security engineers were facing a completely new form of rule-breaking behaviour, that of unauthorised access and at the same time they were constantly using criminological concepts to shape their design of security and explain this behaviour. The concept of engineer–criminologists affords the use of criminological concepts in the sociotechnical study of the Novelty of Cybercrime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-37
Number of pages18
JournalInternet Histories
Volume2
Issue number1-2
Early online date19 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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criminology
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title = "The engineer-criminologist and {"}the novelty of cybercrime{"}: a situated genealogical study of timesharing systems",
abstract = "The Novelty of Cybercrime is a research problem in criminology where scholars are asking whether cybercrime is a wholly new form of crime compared with traditional–terrestrial crimes and whether new criminological theories are needed to understand it. Most criminological theories focus on the human rational aspects and downplay the role of non-humans in explaining what may be novel in cybercrime. This paper shows that a sociotechnical perspective can be developed for understanding the Novelty of Cybercrime using some insights from criminology. Working from the agnosticism principle of Actor-Network Theory and a situated genealogical perspective, it is possible to see that a criminological vocabulary can accommodate both the roles and relations of rational human and non-human actors. This is achieved by proposing the concept of the engineer–criminologist, developed by conducting a study of the development of information security for timesharing systems in the 1960s and 1970s. Timesharing security engineers were facing a completely new form of rule-breaking behaviour, that of unauthorised access and at the same time they were constantly using criminological concepts to shape their design of security and explain this behaviour. The concept of engineer–criminologists affords the use of criminological concepts in the sociotechnical study of the Novelty of Cybercrime.",
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