Et in Arcadia Ego
From Techno‐Utopia to Cybercrime
Cybercrime is one of the many unforeseen consequences enabled by the unprecedented extent of freedom the internet offers, shaped by the stress of both the internet developers and the ‘techno-utopian’ group of early users on autonomy and freedom. This chapter addresses the question of whether such mischief could not have been foreseen in the early stages of internet development by exploring the dominant orientations of two groups who significantly contributed to the understanding of the internet. The first section explores the technological history of the internet, focusing on the engineering community that developed the internet in the 1970s and 1980s and the ‘revolutionary’ design philosophy that inspired its architecture. The second section describes the ways in which the early users of the internet in the 1990s used the characteristics of the technological network to inspire a utopian vision of the internet, their belief in the internet as an ungovernable and anarchic space, and their response to pending government regulation. The subsequent growth of the internet and the diversification of users and usages were clearly beyond the imagination of both the developers and the early academic users. Both groups argued in a context of conflicting visions. They defended their concept of autonomy against more traditional understandings of organizing and regulating data communication. The third section of the chapter describes cybercrime as an unforeseen, yet increasingly dangerous way of making use of the internet.
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