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Cybercrime, Internet Criminal Law and Computer Criminal Law in Germany

Since the beginning of the 21st century, technical progress has developed rapidly. Computers and smartphones have completely changed our lives. Today, it is impossible to imagine everyday life without the smartphone and the permanent availability of the Internet. Information technology criminal law (IT criminal law) is therefore becoming more and more important. However, with the increasing use of the Internet and computers, their misuse and thus cybercrime is also on the rise.

The special feature of cybercrime lies above all in its global nature. The perpetrators can operate across borders from almost anywhere in the world and also cover up their tracks relatively well, which makes prosecution more difficult. However, not only the professionalism of the perpetrators is increasing, but also that of the investigating authorities. Below, we provide a legal overview of the areas of cybercrime, IT criminal law and related areas of law.

In cybercrime issues you need a forward-thinking full-service law firm.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we keep track of the latest developments in the field of cybercrime.

What are Cybercrimes

In a broad sense, cybercrime includes those crimes in which the perpetrator uses modern information technology. Cybercrime in the narrower sense, on the other hand, refers to crimes that directly target the Internet, computer systems, data and networks. Simply put, the computer (or smartphone) must be either the means of the crime or the target. As technological progress is constantly advancing, IT criminal law is also subject to constant change and is one of the most rapidly developing areas of criminal law. Increasingly, very well-prepared attacks on very specific targets, such as large commercial enterprises or (critical) infrastructure facilities, are coming to the fore here, resulting in serious damage to those affected.

The list of crimes that fall under the heading of cybercrime is extensive and includes, for example:

  • the purchase of illegal goods on the Internet (arms and drug trafficking),
  • denial-of-service attacks,
  • the distribution, acquisition and possession of child pornographic content,
  • digital piracy, and
  • copyright infringement.

This short list of offences barely scratches the surface of what lies behind one of the fastest-growing areas of crime. As Internet use increases and we spend more and more of our lives online, this trend is very likely to continue.

How does German Law Legislate for Cybercrime?

Just as smartphones and the Internet influence every area of our lives, cybercrime and IT criminal law also cover several areas. Against this background, it is impossible to summarize all offences in a single law. Instead, acts of cybercrime in Germany are regulated by various legal fields. The Criminal Code contains the following violations that can be assigned to the area of cybercrime:

To effectively combat this criminal behaviour and prevent the corresponding damage, the legislature has partially extended criminal liability to preparatory acts, such as the production or procurement of computer programs whose purpose is the commission of computer fraud (§ 202c StGB). Careless handling of passwords can also lead to the initiation of preliminary proceedings.

In addition, violations of many other criminal and regulatory provisions from a wide range of laws are possible if they can be committed with the help of the Internet. Conceivable violations include, among others:

As you can see from this list, it requires a certain level of expertise to keep track of developments in the field of cybercrime. Therefore, it is even more important for you as a victim to choose legal counsel that is well-versed in the field of information technology. Only then can you receive the legal advice, support and representation you deserve.

The Darknet

The Tor network, the so-called “Darknet”, has long been known to the public and has become well-known as a marketplace for narcotics, weapons and child pornography. Payment is usually made in cryptocurrency. Of course, this area of the Internet has not remained hidden from law enforcement authorities either, so the Darknet is often the focus of investigative measures. However, the Darknet itself is primarily a way for internet users to communicate and access websites anonymously. Therefore, using the Darknet is not a cybercrime in itself. However, this anonymity provides its users with opportunities, and some users use what the Darknet offers to commit criminal actions.

As our usage of the internet increases and more and more news stories break concerning the usage of personal data, tracking online, and so forth, the Darknet usage is likely to increase. We can only speculate how the Darknet will be used in the future concerning cybercrime. However, it has been used for all sorts of criminal actions relating to terrorism, drug offences, and distributing personal private data to the public. Therefore, it is likely to remain a problem for law enforcement moving forward.

Interpol Notices and Cybercrime in Germany

Because of the cross-border dimensions of cybercrime, the possibility of Interpol alerts is particularly attractive to national investigative authorities.

Interpol stands for “International Criminal Police Organization” and is the second largest international organisation with 194 member states. It aims to intensify and improve international cooperation in police work. It thus supports the national police and prosecution authorities in the individual member states in the fight against crime. For this purpose, Interpol essentially makes various databases and information available between the member states, enabling a worldwide exchange of information.

Utilising what are known as “diffusions” and “notices“, individual Interpol member states can make various forms of requests to other member states through Interpol. Primarily, these alerts are used to locate one or more specific individuals wanted by a member state. In doing so, the search is not limited to alleged perpetrators of a crime but also to victims or witnesses, as well as persons deemed to be a danger to the public. A comprehensive description of the various diffusions and notices can be found in our article “Interpol Notices Explained: A Legal Overview“.

An alert, especially an Interpol Red Notice, issued against an individual is accompanied by enormous restrictions for that individual and the risk of arrest along with subsequent extradition to the requesting state. Therefore, it is of considerable importance that this alert has not been obtained improperly or is otherwise unlawful and thus violates the rights of the person concerned. In this respect, there is a right to information on any existing Interpol alerts and a right to have them removed.

Our extradition lawyers at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte are experts in dealing with Interpol alerts and securing their deletion. They can advise you extensively and in the best possible way due to their enormous wealth of experience.

Criminal Defence Services from Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte

Although law enforcement agencies have upgraded their knowledge in the area of IT criminal law in recent years, prosecutors and courts often lack the in-depth technical knowledge that can, however, be extremely relevant for the specific case. This not infrequently leads to incorrect assumptions and conclusions. The goal of effective criminal defense can therefore also be to comprehensively clarify the facts of the case. The field of cybercrime and internet criminal law is relatively new and is developing at an incredibly fast pace. As technology improves and our horizons expand as a result of these developments, so do the possibilities in the area of cybercrime, and with them the misunderstandings.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we are a forward-thinking law firm that is ready for what the modern world brings. Our criminal defence team will provide you with expert legal advice and criminal defense to clear up any misunderstandings or, at best, prevent them from arising in the first place.

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Practice Group: German Criminal Law

Practice Group:
German Criminal Law

Philipp Busse


Dr. Julius Hagen



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