Research Prizes

Litska Strikwerda
PhD dissertation:
Virtual Acts, Real Crimes? A Legal-Philosophical Analysis of Virtual Cybercrime.

Supervisor: Professor P.A.E. Brey
Co-supervisor: Dr. J.H. Søraker, Dr. P.J. Nickel
Nomination: University of Twente, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences

Report by the Selection Committee
This dissertation addresses a genuinely new subject: the criminalization of purely virtual acts, from the theft of items acquired by people during internet games, to virtual child pornography. A highly topical subject unfortunately, where the central question is: why criminalize these acts? Should they cause damage in the ‘extra virtual world’? Or is there space for paternalistic considerations? The author tackles the subject in a combative manner, equipped with philosophical and legal tools, and ultimately proposes a balanced framework for criminalization. For instance, she cleverly applies a structure in what is still uncharted territory. And she formulates all this in a style that is crystal clear and legible, even for non-specialists.

Litska Strikwerda (1983) studied law at Utrecht University, where she obtained both her Bachelor’s degree (2005) and Master’s degree (2006), specializing in criminal law. As part of an exchange programme, she also spent a semester at Lund University in Sweden. After completing her law degrees, she took a Master’s in Applied Ethics at the Norwegian University of Science and technology, where she graduated in 2007. Litska then worked from 2007 to 2010 as Assistant Professor in Criminal Law at Utrecht University. In the years that followed she wrote her doctoral dissertation, entitled ‘Virtual Acts, Real Crimes? A legal-philosophical analysis of virtual cybercrime’, obtaining her PhD in 2014 from the University of Twente. During her PhD studies Litska worked for three months as a guest researcher at Loyola University in Chicago in the United States. She is currently affiliated to the Open University as a University Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Law. She is also a member of the Ethics Board of Abrona, a care facility for people with intellectual disabilities.