Penal law related to the Internet covers all criminal offences which bear relation to the Internet. Criminal investigations in this area, on the one hand, look into conventional offences like fraud, receiving stolen goods, libel, illegal gambling, etc. allegedly perpetrated by using the Internet. An example, which has gained particular importance in this regard, is so-called phishing, i.e., a means to illegally obtain passwords in order to commit fraud and computer fraud.
Another emphasis of investigation is on computer-specific offences like those defined in §§ 202a, 303a, 303b of the German Penal Code as well as on copyright infringements. The significance of copyrights has increased in particular and not least due to massive interventions made by the music industry in conjunction with tighter penal provisions provided for in copyright law. Criminal investigations, which can, among other actions, include large-scale search raids carried out in the homes of private Internet users, especially concern the downloading of music titles from online exchange platforms.
Apart from the area covered by substantive criminal law, the Internet plays an ever more important part for investigations carried out by police and public prosecutors in general. In a large number of criminal proceedings, the Internet is used for obtaining evidence, e.g., by monitoring e-mail correspondence or by having access to call data. Quite often, this is done while disregarding the limits which have been defined in criminal procedure law and under the Constitution in an attempt to keep surveillance from getting out of hand even further.