What is ‘Cyberterrorism’? Computer and Internet Technology in Legal Definitions of Terrorism
The idea that terrorists could cause massive loss of life, worldwide economic chaos and irreparable environmental damage by hacking into critical infrastructure systems has captured the public imagination. Air traffic control systems, nuclear power stations, hospitals and stock markets are all viable targets for ‘cyberterrorists’ wanting to wreak havoc and destruction. On the less serious end of the spectrum, cyber-attacks against websites and other non-essential infrastructure by political ‘hacktivists’ are increasing by the day. Governments clearly need laws in place to protect against acts of cyberterrorism, but they also need to ensure that these laws do not encompass less serious uses of computer and Internet technology. This chapter examines legal definitions of terrorism and related offences in four Commonwealth nations (the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand). In doing so it addresses two questions. Firstly, what uses of computer and Internet technology does domestic law regard as acts of terrorism? Secondly, are existing legal responses to terrorism sufficient to cover the possibility of a serious act of cyberterrorism?
KeywordsCriminal Offence Internet Technology Criminal Code Legal Definition Infrastructure Facility
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