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Cybercrime: Seminar - Spring 2010

Spring term, Block K
Th 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Clinical Professor Phillip Malone
2 classroom credits LAW-92485A
2, 3, or 4 optional clinical credits LAW-98141C Fall or Spring, or 2 Winter

As cell phones, the internet and an array of personal computing devices have become increasingly ubiquitous in our society, so have such technologies also become either the means or the object of a wide range of criminal activity. Many of the most challenging developments in criminal law and procedure now arise in the context of crimes that involve the internet or computers. This seminar will explore how technology, and the social and cultural changes it has brought about, challenge our traditional approaches to criminal law and procedure, in particular core concepts such as knowledge and intent, causation, and justification or excuse. We will approach the subject of cybercrime from both doctrinal and policy standpoints. The seminar will review relevant statutes including the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Wiretap Act, and federal anti-gambling laws, and will consider conduct such as hacking, data and identity theft, online fraud, phishing, economic espionage, harassment and cyberbullying, and cyberstalking. We will devote substantial attention to electronic surveillance, search and seizure and evidentiary issues, with an emphasis on differing expectations of privacy in an online world, on notions of self-incrimination through compelled disclosure of passwords or access controls, on the difficulties of balancing privacy interests against valid law enforcement interests and on unique authentication and admissibility challenges posed by digital and online evidence.

Students who would like to participate in the optional clinical must enroll through clinical registration. Clinical placements are at the Cyberlaw clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Please refer to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs ( for clinical registration dates and early add/drop deadlines.