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Cybercrime, extradition and autism

18th April 2018

This new area of cyber law is the subject of a discussion at the Internet Freedom Hack this weekend (April 20 to 22) in Brisbane.

New research examining high profile case studies of cybercrime committed in the US by foreign nationals demonstrates how governments grapple with extradition proceedings.

Dr Monique Mann, from QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre with Dr Ian Warren and Dr Sally Kennedy, from Deakin University, studied the three cases – including Gary McKinnon, Gary Davis and Lauri Love - and found governments prioritise the location of where the online harm occurred over the defendants’ human rights that would justify shifting the trial to their home country.

“This is a looming problem for jurisdictions around the world as more and more offences are committed via computer transnationally where the suspect has never physically entered the country where the alleged crime occurred,” Dr Mann said.

In all three cases, the defendants sought to be tried in their own country – two in the UK, one in Ireland – and strongly resisted extradition to the US on the grounds of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which would make them susceptible to suicide in an unfamiliar environment.

The cases dealt with hacking into US government sites; trafficking narcotics via the dark web’s infamous Silk Road; and, ‘hactivism’ involving hiding malware on US government sites, including the FBI and NASA, to steal thousands of government employees’ private information.

“This approach to extradition treats suspects as equally mobile as their digital activities which leave them disconnected from the protections of domestic extradition, due process and human rights laws in their own countries.”

The study The legal geographies of transnational cyber-prosecutions: extradition, human rights and forum shifting was published in the Journal of Global Crime.

This weekend Dr Mann will be in conversation with Lauri Love discussing his extradition case at the Internet Freedom Hack organised by industry partner ThoughtWorks.

First image: iSTock

Second image: The Guardian

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