chapter  2
35 Pages

The making of hypercrime

The making of hypercrime did not happen overnight – and certainly not in the 15 years since the origins of the internet. The tendency, especially in discussion of cybercrime, to see the advent of deviant behaviours that exploit the technologies of telepresence as ‘a significantly new phenomenon, with profound social consequences’ (Thomas & Loader, 2000, p. 2) is symptomatic of the dehistoricised overview that obscures their long development. ‘Doing things at a distance’ (cf. Giddens, 1991) is not something that has emerged from nowhere, or because the American military found out how to link some computers together in the late 1960s. Hyperspatialisation – those transitions in our experience and uses of space and time that facilitate hypercrime – is a process with many historical roots. All that really differs at each stage of its development is ‘the degree (my italics) to which the friction of space has been overcome to accommodate social interaction’ (Harvey, 1989, p. 222). No single technology can be associated with this phenomenon – no matter how quickly it may have served to accelerate such trends. Likewise, technology itself should be seen as only complementary to the social basis for criminal efforts that seek to transcend the limitations of embodiment. As Raymond Williams put this:

. . . people say ‘television altered our world’ or ‘radio altered the world’ or reading further back, ‘printing altered the world’. And we usually know, at first, what these statements mean. Evident and widespread social effects have undoubtedly followed the uses of all these inventions. But then . . . we have already . . . introduced a further category; that of uses. It can then be said that what has altered our world isn’t television, or radio, or printing, but the uses made of them, in particular societies.