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From cybercrime to cyborg crime

An exploration of high-tech cybercrime, offenders and victims through the lens of Actor-Network Theory
PhD ceremony:Ms W. van der Wagen
When:June 14, 2018
Start:12:45
Supervisors:R. van Swaaningen, prof. mr. dr. B.F. (Berend) Keulen
Co-supervisor:dr. M. (Martina) Althoff
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Law

Universities that are hacked, computer systems that are taken hostage or turned into 'zombies', servers of Internet providers that are being bombed, we are almost daily confronted with cybercrime and its consequences. These more technical forms of crime deviate from traditional crime on various fronts, in particular with regard to their digital, automated and virtual character. Within criminology, there is plenty of debate about whether or not theoretical innovation is necessary. In this thesis it is stated that existing criminological approaches still place the human actor too central in explaining crime and treat technology in a passive way. From this perspective, the dissertation explores the theoretical potential of Bruno Latours Actor Network Theory (ANT), an approach that draws specific attention to the human-technology relationship and also assigns agency to technology. In the dissertation, ANT was explored in various empirical case studies, namely the analysis of a botnet, an ethnographic study of hackers and the analysis of three forms of cyber victimization (ransomware, botnets and virtual theft). These studies have resulted in an alternative perspective on cybercrime, referred to as the 'cyborg crime' perspective. This perspective suggests that cybercrime cannot be considered merely as a human product, but is generated by an interactive network of people and machines. The dissertation hereby contributes to the ever-growing question of how contemporary technological developments change our world and to what extent we have to shift our theoretical boundaries.