Julia Kleinewiese
Cybercrime measurement and issues of validity: Comparing process-generated and survey data in Europe

10th International Conference on Social Science Methodology (RC33), (virtual conference), 07. bis 10. September 2021

Typically, measurements of crime have struggled with issues of validity (e.g. Skogan 1974). Since some crimes are reported, while others are not, the degree of validity depends on the amount of crimes remaining in the dark.

Validity problems frequently occur when cybercrime is scrutinized. This deviant phenomenon has gained increasing attention as technologies have advanced and the use of digital devices and computer-based systems has become widespread. Cybercrime is being examined by a rising number of researchers but issues pertaining its valid measurement have not yet been a central focus of such research (see Kshetri [2013] for an introduction to problems of cybercrime measurement).

This leads to the question: If a good deal of cybercrime-activities remain in the dark (net), how can the validity of cybercrime data be improved? My suggestion is that a combination of different data sources could add to improving data validity. For this purpose, a focus is placed on process-generated and survey data in Europe. In my presentation, I will compare different data sources, such as data from surveys and administrative institutions (also big data), with reference to their particular contributions in order to bring light into the dark of unreported cybercrimes. Here, the official figures work as a benchmark and bottom-line for discovered and reported crimes. Moreover, they are based on clear (legal) definitions that leave out several relevant issues. Therefore, surveys may add to the understanding of cybercrime, regarding both the frequency of occurrence and phenomena outside of legal notions.

Kshetri, N. (2013). Reliability, validity, comparability and practical utility of cybercrime-related data, metrics, and information. Information, 4(1), 117-123.

Skogan, W. G. (1974). The validity of official crime statistics: An empirical investigation. Social Science Quarterly, 25-38.