About this course

Content of the course:

The digital revolution changed almost every aspect of modern life. It changed the way people work, communicate, acquire goods and services as well as spend free time. These technological changes improved quality of life and created many opportunities. Yet, they have also created opportunities for infringing other people’s rights and for committing old offences in a different way.

In this sense, technology became both a target and a means of committing crime. Its disruption can have extremely grave consequences (attacks on critical infrastructure, hospitals). Digital technology rendered data extremely valuable. Combined with tools enabling to analyse it in enormous quantities, data has become the oil of the 21st century. At the same time a talented hacker can access it or disrupt it from the sanctuary of his/her home far away from the place it is located. And with cloud computing it is not even sure, where data is located – which is not a problem for the hacker, but a significant one for law enforcement. Technology also affected the way we understand property. It became much less exclusive as replication became so easy, creating new challenges for the protection of IP rights. The concept of virtual property results in questions as to what the law should protect. Finally, the ways people communicate changed drastically. While it facilitated being connected, it also created opportunities to commit massive infringements of copyrights, cyberbully, efficiently spread hate speech or distribute child pornography.

These changes are also an enormous challenge for criminal procedure. Access to data has become vital for law enforcement, while old methods such as search and seizure have significant limitations. Law enforcement is still confined to national borders, while cyber-criminal activities know no boundaries of this kind. The legal instruments for cross-border cooperation conceived for the “real-world” prove to be extremely inefficient. This requires rethinking of the concept of jurisdiction and looking for new methods. At the same time, the possibilities of “legal hacking” and wire-tapping demand that the law guarantees sufficient protection to persons subject to these investigatory methods.

This course will analyse and evaluate how digital technological developments disrupt the old legal concepts and tools creating the need for new offences, the necessity to rethink old offences and looking for new solution in investigating crime. Taking as starting points problems described above, it will examine possible solutions, and analyse how they are tackled in Dutch and comparative law. It will analyse the substantive criminal law issues (e.g. problems of defining different types of cyber-offences, the need to use criminal law to combat forms of online abuses) as well as procedural ones (e.g. gathering of digital evidence).

Learning outcomes

After this course:

  • The student can indicate and analyse how criminal procedural law is influenced by digital technology developments. The student understands the problems of investigating and prosecuting cybercrime, in particular mechanisms and difficulties of gathering digital evidence.
  • The student understands the role of international instruments in combatting cybercrime and in shaping national cybercrime legislation. He/she has knowledge and understanding of the interaction between national and international legislation in the field of cybercrime.
  • The student can apply regulations and case law in the aforementioned areas, solve cases and put forward legal arguments.
  • The student has improved his/her oral and written skills in English through discussion in class and preparation of the essay.

body { font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial } table { font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial }

Good to know

Do you study at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) or Wageningen University and Research (WUR)? You can enrol via

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    11 November 2024

    • Ends
      2 February 2025
    • Term *
      Period 2
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    Enrolment period closed
For guests registration, this course is handled by Utrecht University