China has made significant progress in cybercrime legislation but faces increasing challenges to keep pace with the country's exponential growth in internet use, according to a report in current issue of the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.
Man Qi, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, and colleagues Yongquan Wang of East China University of Political Science and Law, in Shanghai and Rongsheng Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, China, claim that cybercrime legislation in China is only now in the early stages of development.
They explain how internet use in China has grown exponentially since the first email was sent to the outside world in 1987. From the first commercial internet connections established in 1995, China now has at least 300 million users and leads the world in user numbers.
However, legislation has failed to keep pace with this incredible growth, the team says. Cybercrime is not only on the increase but is not being addressed adequately by law when criminals are prosecuted. This is a problem not only in China itself, but internationally as cybercriminals can exploit security loopholes across the global internet. More specific laws targeting cybercrimes should now be considered, the team asserts.
The first cybercrime took place in China in the mid-1980s, which was two decades later than the first active digital crime in the West, with the Chinese banking system defrauded. Through the 1980s and 1990s the growth of cybercrime in China was slow, but steady. However, the emergence of a hitherto unknown phenomenon, a computer virus in the form of a malware program known as "Ping Pong" finally drew cybercrime to the attention of the Chinese public.
Today, cybercrime in China is a vast self-perpetuating criminal industry. The team points out that while current law is wholly inadequate, a new generation of legislation and internet-related government administrative regulation is now being put in place to tackle newly stipulated "criminal liabilities".
They suggest that to be successful this new legislation will require the Chinese authorities to work closely with international efforts to fight cybercrime cooperatively. "The awareness of legislation outside China is also critical with a view to collaborating to stifle cybercrime across the global internet," Qi says.