Book Review: Crime and the Internet

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I was somewhat hesitant about “reviewing” this book given that it was edited by Professor David Wall, a colleague of one of my current supervisors. As  such, the notion that I might read it and disagree  was a present thought in the back of my mind. Luckily, I don’t need to worry about that as I would say this is definitely one of the better criminological texts covering the internet and the Web.

The book presents several perspectives, from a variety of researchers on a broad spectrum of issues relating to criminality on the Web. These are handled with such high quality that much of the information is useful for a deeper understanding of the internet as a whole.

There is also a strong sentiment throughout regarding the need to tread carefully going forwards with attempts to regulate and legislate the Web. Coming from a more technical background and being familiar with the haphazard applications of law to technology in the copyright domain; I found this to add a lot of credibility to the arguments made.

Whilst rare, there are a handful of instances of a behaviour I find common to sociology texts. Terms are defined by reference to another term defined by another author mentioned as a reference. This can necessitate accessing one or two other texts in order to parse a paragraph or two. But, I was pleased to see this far less commonly than I am used to, which kept the text very accessible.

Finally, there were a few instances where I felt references to specific technologies/services would have benefited the arguments made. Services like COLLECT+, Google Authenticator and Bitcoin to pick a few, essentially solidify what are presented as hypothetical arguments in some cases. That said,  mentioning specific services is perhaps a practice that might not be well suited in this more academic context.

Overall, this is definitely a great resource for people interested in criminology on the internet and the internet more generally, especially in an academic setting. The articles and references provide a wealth of jumping-off points for further research on the topics covered. The book also provides surprisingly up to date descriptions of the current state of affairs both in terms of legislation and of technology. I’d happily list this book amongst the best on the topic.

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