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Myths and the internet



The roots of cybercrime, it will be argued, are cultural rather than scientific, and shape the way that we view and react societally to online deviance. It is important to understand this relationship because it frames legal and policy responses to cybercrime. The simultaneous over-problematization and under prosecution of cybercrime has fuelled the culture of fear around cybercrime. This has led to the public demanding levels of security that, for good reasons, the police agencies and government cannot realistically deliver. The knock-on effect is that police and government have embarked upon a process of reassurance policing to fill the gap between the demand and supply of security. But, the results have been mixed, as some threats from cybercrime remain vulnerable despite important developments in policing.

The first part of this talk will emphasise the normative nature of the term cybercrime. The second part will explore the role of cyberpunk literature in developing the basic cultural conceptualisation of cybercrime. The third part will look at the way those concepts have been strengthened in hacker-related movies and medias. The fourth part will show how the hacker narrative has been strengthened by dystopic fiction and then perpetuated by the culture of fear and flaws in the news production process. The final part will look at responsive policing strategies.


David Wall is Professor of Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences where he researches and teaches the subjects of crime and technology, criminology, criminal justice, and policing. He is also interested in intellectual property crime (counterfeiting), the sociology of law, and law and popular culture. He joined Durham University in August 2010 from the University of Leeds where he was Professor of Criminal Justice and Information Society in the School of Law. Between 2005 and 2007 he also served as Head of the School of Law and, prior to that, was Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (2000 and 2005). Outside Durham University David is an active member of the British Society of Criminology and was Hon Sec. between 1996 and 2001.

He is currently on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Criminology, Policing and Society, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Matters, and the Security Journal. He is also a member of the ESRC Grants Assessment Panel and was previously a member of the ESRC Virtual College 2000-2008 and Research Grants Board 2009-2010. He holds fellowships with the Higher Education Academy, the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS).

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When & where

4.00pm - 6.00pmThursday 8th November 2012