Criminal Law

IT Criminal Law / Cybercrime

All criminal offenses that are in any way related to the Internet are collectively referred to as IT criminal law (also known as cybercrime, computer criminal law, data criminal law or Internet criminal law).

IT criminal law in the narrower sense describes criminal offenses that are directed against the Internet, data networks, information technology systems or their data, i.e. are originally rooted in the digital world. The corresponding elements of data espionage were added to the Criminal Code by the legislature in order to close gaps in criminal liability that had arisen in the light of advancing digitization:

  • Spying out data, § 202a StGB,
  • Interception of data, § 202b StGB,
  • Preparing to spy out and intercept data, § 202c StGB,
  • Data theft, § 202d StGB.

IT criminal law in the broader sense includes all criminal offenses that are committed with the help of communications and information technology, but could just as easily be committed in the analog world. They are therefore spread across very different areas of law, such as white-collar criminal law, sexual criminal law, competition criminal law, copyright criminal law, press law, general criminal law or telecommunications law.

The following facts in particular regularly play a role:

  • Computer fraud, § 263a StGB,
  • Falsification of data relevant to evidence, § 269 StGB,
  • Distribution or acquisition or possession of pornographic content, §§ 184 to 184d StGB,
  • Insult, defamation or slander, §§ 185 to 187 StGB,
  • Unauthorized exploitation of copyrighted works, unauthorized affixing of the copyright designation or unauthorized interference with related rights, Sections 106 to 108 of the Copyright Act,
  • Criminal infringement of distinctive signs, Union trademarks or use of geographical indications, Sections 143 to 144 Trademark Act.

In the context of cybercrime, transnational criminal acts naturally occur frequently, as a result of which questions of foreign criminal law also regularly arise.

The legal field of IT criminal law is subject to constant change due to the rapid development in the digital world and, at the same time, investigating authorities are being given ever more far-reaching powers to collect data. This makes it all the more important to seek legal advice at an early stage.

We always keep an eye on the latest case law and legislation and are happy to advise you on all areas of IT criminal law.