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Crime Scene: Internet

Freie Universität Researchers Contribute to EU Study on Cybercrime, Bullying, and Extremism on the Internet

№ 010/2021 from Jan 19, 2021

Researchers at Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration in Bavaria are studying various forms of online criminality, as part of an EU-wide research project, along with other unlawful, illicit, and concerning online behavior such as bullying, discrimination, hate speech, threats, and political and religious extremism. The research team has set up a survey to find out whether and how internet users have come across such activities, how safe they feel in cyberspace, and whether they have been personally affected. The survey is also designed to identify whether the coronavirus pandemic has led to any change in the type or frequency of cybercrime, for example, in relation to hacking or internet scams. The project is funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and the survey can be accessed until mid-February 2021 at https://www.prophets-h2020.eu/.

After taking the survey, participants receive detailed guidance on how to protect themselves on the internet. They also have the opportunity to sign up for a draw to win one of two tablet computers.

“From a criminal point of view, the internet has opened up a range of potential new options. These include hacking, scams, and identity theft to name just a few,” explains Professor Herbert Scheithauer, a professor of psychology at Freie Universität Berlin and one of the authors of the study. He points out that the internet is increasingly used as a vehicle for radical criminal activities, for example, to disseminate ideological messages and hatred, or to obtain money illegally. Professor Scheithauer notes that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digitalization processes worldwide, and many people have adapted the way they behave online as a result – which could be good news for cybercrime. Researchers working on the project now want to gather data to show how people in Germany, including both those who have already experienced online crime directly and those who are at risk, are responding to the situation.

The survey forms part of a more extensive research project, PROPHETS, with a consortium comprising 15 partners from ten EU member states. The project partners include four universities, six law enforcement agencies, two non-governmental organizations, and two research organizations, and the project is funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 786894.

Its core aim is to understand more about how online radicalization takes place and to help prevent terrorist-related cyber criminality.

Further Information


Link to the research project: https://ww2.unipark.de/uc/cyber_eu/   


Prof. Dr. Herbert Scheithauer, Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Email: herbert.scheithauer@fu-berlin.de