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Abstract

Hong Kong, an international finance center, has been enjoying great benefits generated by computer-mediated communication ("CMC") in the new Information Age. On the other hand with the rapid and advanced development in technology, Hong Kong's economy is increasingly and irreversibly relying, and made dependent upon CMC and the Internet to operate, because the Internet has become a catalyst of reform and development in other arenas including social, cultural, and public policy. The Information Age raises new criminality concerns as it aggregates traditional criminal problems since great amounts of data are transmitted by and stored on computers is beyond imagination and CMCs are vulnerable to attack by hackers and computers can be used to defraud people and businesses of millions of dollars. Examining computer crime in Hong Kong presents major problems and issues such as agreeing in a commonly accepted definition of computer crime, fully understanding the extent of computer crime in Hong Kong's society, given the fact that only a small fraction of such crime is actually reported and generating the empirical data needed if one wants to develop effective measures to deal with cyberspace's disorder. After a short presentation of these challenges the authors describe, in statistical form, the trend of IT usage and Internet popularity in Hong Kong and also provide an overview of the background, the nature, extent, and distribution, of computer crime in Hong Kong. Subsequently the authors explore and seek to understand the policy, theory, legislative, law enforcement, and preventive measures through education as well as investigate whether the Hong Kong government's regulation of the Internet is excessive or deficient. Concluding that the Hong Kong government and legislation has been passive and/or inadequate and outdated in bringing a deterrence effect to computer criminals while the piecemeal activities of the private sector can hardly be significant or persistent the authors propose a more comprehensive approach in the formation of the computer crime policy, both in the legislative arena and law enforcement. On the other hand the government and private sector co-operation should be promoted but the government should take a stronger leading role, particularly in the area of public awareness and education in computer and information ethic while the study of cyberspace governance in Hong Kong should be encouraged.

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