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Definition of Cybercrime

A cybercrime is a criminal phenomenon characterized by the abuse of information technology, both hardware and software, for the commission of one or more crimes. This article will explore the definition, types, and regulatory evolution of cybercrimes, with particular reference to Law No. 547/1993.

Characteristics of Cybercrimes

Scope and Types

Cybercrimes encompass a wide range of illicit activities. Some of these crimes aim at the commercial exploitation of the internet, while others threaten the national security information systems of a state. The common element of these crimes is the use of electronic devices.

Regulatory Evolution

Often, cybercrimes are perceived as a recent phenomenon and thus recently regulated. However, the main Italian law on cybercrimes is Law No. 547 of 1993, a regulation that is over 23 years old and still somewhat vague in its contents despite several amendments.

Law No. 547/1993

Contents and Amendments

Law No. 547/1993 introduced several provisions to criminalize cybercrimes. Some of these provisions were amended following Italy’s ratification of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime (November 23, 2001) through Law No. 48/2008. These amendments aimed to update and clarify some aspects of the original regulation.

Definition of Cybercrimes

Cybercrimes are conventionally referred to as such because they commonly involve the use of electronic devices. The influence of information technology on the commission and perception of offenses cannot be easily explained through traditional criminological approaches.

Types of Cybercrimes

Computer Fraud and Computer Abused

Part of the doctrine distinguishes between computer fraud and computer abused. Computer fraud includes all manipulative behaviors with fraudulent intent, while computer abused encompasses all actions that involve the improper use of technologies to gain advantages.

Properly Cybercrimes and Incidentally Cybercrimes

Another classification divides cybercrimes into properly cybercrimes and incidentally cybercrimes, based on the essentiality of the device in the conduct. Properly cybercrimes cannot exist without computer or telematic tools, while incidentally cybercrimes include offenses that can also occur outside cyberspace.

Case-Based Approach

Overcoming Spatial-Temporal Boundaries

Cybercrimes share the characteristic of overcoming spatial-temporal boundaries, necessitating a case-based approach rather than a categorical distinction. This approach better addresses the diverse types of illicit conduct and the challenges posed by their heterogeneity.


The definition and classification of cybercrimes are complex and continuously evolving. Although Law No. 547/1993 represents a fundamental starting point, subsequent amendments and a case-based approach are essential to address the vastness and complexity of the cybercrime phenomenon.

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