The University of Tartu helps to research cybercrime motives

The University of Tartu Centre for Ethics and School of Law participate in a new research project of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, which studies the social and psychological aspects of cybercrimes committed by children and adolescents.

The research project RAYUELA aims to bring together law enforcement agencies, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, legal experts, computer scientists and engineers, to improve cybercrime prevention and understand the factors that influence the online behaviour of children and adolescents under 18. The kick-off meeting of the project took place on 1 and 2 October.

“The Centre for Ethics advises the RAYUELA project partners on research ethics and the protection of privacy. We have also helped to develop ethical guidelines for the involvement of children and young people in research in the past,” said Professor Margit Sutrop, the head of the centre. She added that the role of the Centre for Ethics is to offer help and expertise on how to involve children in research and which research methods are ethically acceptable.

The University of Tartu School of Law also participates in the project. Led by Professor Jaan Ginter, they are responsible for criminology and data protection issues. “The School of Law deals with the project’s criminological and victimological (victimology is the study of victimization – eds.) sides and how to use data in research,” said Professor Ginter.

Law enforcement has noted that more and more teenagers and young people are increasingly committing cybercrimes.  However, as the project description also states, many of them do it for fun without realising the consequences of their actions and are ignorant about the severe custodial sentences that such crimes carry. This is an international problem which has considerable cost implications; it is estimated that crimes in cyberspace will cost the global economy $445B annually.

RAYUELA will develop a serious interactive and educational game environment for multiple platforms with different stages and a common narrative. The game will present the user with a global cyber-adventure composed of a series of storylines related to cybercrime. During the project, children are monitored while playing the game in controlled (e.g. in school) and uncontrolled (e.g. by themselves online) environments and their behaviour is analysed.

RAYUELA’s main goal is to better understand the drivers and human factors affecting certain relevant ways of cyber-criminality, as well as empower and educate young people (children and teenagers primarily) in the benefits, risks and threats intrinsically linked to the use of the Internet by playing, thus preventing and mitigating cybercriminal behaviour.

In addition to the University of Tartu, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board is also involved with RAYUELA. The project has 17 partner organisations from Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Greece and Germany. The project started in October 2020 and ends in 2023.

With the involvement of children and young people, the Centre for Ethics also has extensive experience in the EU-funded project “Children as Change Agents for Science in Society” (SiSCatalyst). The Centre for Ethics managed an ethics-centred work package, the main task of which was to evaluate and consider the ethical aspects of the project, to ensure and improve the overall quality of the project, and to develop guidelines which stress the ethical aspects of situations involving children.

The full title of this project is “Empowering and educating young people for the internet by playing”. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 882828.

Additional information:
Margit Sutrop, the head of the Centre for Ethics, 520 7183, margit.sutrop [ät]
Õnne Allaje, communication specialist at the Centre for Ethics, 5308 4099, onne.allaje [ät]