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A growing proportion of criminal activity is conducted in and mediated through online markets and digital platforms, some hidden, some more open. Developments in social media, micro-work platforms, cryptocurrencies and anonymising technologies have change the structure of criminal opportunity online. There is a growing financialisation of cybercrime and an expanding tole of the state or para-state actors facilitating crime-like activity. These developments have raised challenges for researchers, law enforcement, the public and indeed for those involved in criminal activities themselves. As with many other areas of life today, there is a tendency to assume that either ‘tech will fix it’ or that the developments involved are inevitable and beyond human control.

To address these issues, Dr. Angus Bancroft has designed and will be teaching a new course entitled ‘Research Problems in Drugs and Crime Online’.

This course emerges from ongoing research he has been conducting with colleagues in Edinburgh Law and Informatics and Computer Science at St. Andrews on cryptomarkets — online markets for the sale of illegal drugs and services + the business models and technologies used by cybercriminals.

Some questions that will be examined in this course include: How can data on cybercrime be evaluated and validated? What ethical challenges are involve in research in this area? How are value chains created and managed in illicit markets? What business and organisational models and principles are used in these markets? How has the growth of platform capitalism affected online illicit markets? How do markets respond to disruption from law enforcement and other sources? How do global and transnational perspectives help us understand developments in this area? And many more.

The course will draw on theoretical and critical perspectives in digital sociology and will take a live methods approach. It applies sociological tools along with criminological and computer science methods to investigate the developing social and technical space of the illicit.

Students enrolled in the course are invited develop their own interests, to set and investigate questions relevant to these topics — which they will then study as part of a research team, and demonstrate their ability to produce relevant, high-impact work.

More information & details about this exciting new course offering will be provided ASAP.

Categories: Pedagogy


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