Computer Crime Law
What is Computer Crime Law?
Computer crime law deals with the broad range of criminal offenses committed using a computer or similar electronic device. Nearly all of these crimes are perpetrated online. The internet provides a degree of anonymity to offenders, as well as potential access to personal, business, and government data. Many computer crimes are committed as a means of stealing money or valuable information, although financial gain is not always the objective. In fact, some of the most notorious incidents of computer crime involved hackers seeking “bragging rights” by overcoming government or corporate cyber security measures.
Laws concerning computer crimes have been enacted at the state and federal levels. In 1986, Congress passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This law has been amended and expanded as internet technology has advanced, and it continues to form the basis for federal prosecutions of computer-related criminal activities. Other relevant federal statutes include the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 (ITERA), and certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Hacking, Piracy, and Cyber Terrorism
Hacking is one of the most well-known types of computer crime. In this context, the term refers to the unauthorized access of another’s computer system. These intrusions are often conducted in order to launch malicious programs known as viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses that can shut down or destroy an entire computer network. Hacking is also carried out as a way to take credit card numbers, internet passwords, and other personal information. By accessing commercial databases, hackers are able to steal these types of items from millions of internet users all at once.
Internet piracy is another common offense. Piracy involves the dissemination of copyrighted material without permission of the owner. Beginning in the early 1990s, music sharing websites became extremely popular, many of them operating in violation of the law. Movies, video games, e-books, and software are now pirated over the internet as well. Estimates by the entertainment industry put the annual cost of internet piracy in the billions of dollars, although there is evidence the scope of the economic impact has been overstated by the industry in an effort to persuade Congress to pass further regulations.
Cyber terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon. These crimes involve politically-motivated attacks to targets such as government websites or commercial networks. Such attacks are designed to be large in scale, and to produce fear and panic among the victim population. With financial markets now trading over the internet and so many other transactions taking place online, the danger of cyber terrorism has received a great deal of attention. However, actual instances of this type of crime are rare.
Identity Theft and Other Frauds
The problem of identity theft existed prior to the development of the internet. Nevertheless, these crimes often involve the use of a computer, as offenders trick online shoppers and other web users into disclosing social security numbers, bank account and credit card information, home addresses, and more. A common scheme is known as “email phishing.” It is accomplished by sending victims an email containing a link to a website that the victims use regularly. The email asks victims to update their account information on the website, but when victims click on the link within the email, they are taken to a copycat website that secretly captures the information they enter.
Online Stalking, Bullying, and Sex Crimes
Some of the most serious computer crimes have nothing to do with making money, achieving political objectives, or showing off a hacker’s skills. Instead, they are designed to cause emotional trauma to the victim. Social media websites provide offenders with the ability to publish hurtful or embarrassing material as a way of inflicting harm on others. Once photographs or other items are posted and circulated online, they can be impossible for the victim to remove. The fallout from these kinds of activities is especially devastating for school age children, who tend to be more sensitive to social harassment.
A number of sexual offenses are also committed using computers. The trafficking of child pornography is one example. Federal and state authorities prosecute these cases vigorously, with convicted offenders often being sentenced to decades of incarceration. Law enforcement also devotes substantial resources to catching online predators who attempt to solicit underage victims for purposes of sex. These criminals are often discovered frequenting internet chat rooms, where they pose as young people in order to lure minor victims into romantic encounters.
Reasons to Hire a Computer Crimes Lawyer
If you have been accused of a computer crime, you need a defense attorney with technical as well as legal expertise. Attorneys practicing in this area will also have access to experts who can review digital evidence and testify at trial if necessary. To learn more, contact a computer crimes lawyer now.
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Articles About Computer Crime Law
- Do Real World Laws Apply to Virtual World Problems?Everyday, millions of people login from all over the world to experience various virtual worlds. Some are part of a video game, others are intended to allow for social interactions, and still others include elements for commercial dealings. Whatever the purpose, any environment in which people interact can lead to friction and disagreements of various sorts. This has led many to ask whether the laws of the real world can or should apply to virtual world problems.
- Is There a Law Against Cyberstalking or Cyberharassment?With the rise of social networking, many have lost some of their concerns about personal privacy. Indeed, millions of Americans share the intimate details of their lives with an audience of dozens to thousands to sometimes even millions of people everyday, and think nothing of it. But what happens when someone begins to use this information against you? Are they violating any laws by following you online or bothering you on the Internet?
- Ninth Circuit Outlines Boundaries of Computer Fraud and Abuse ActIn United States v. Nosal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to determine the boundaries of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. It ultimately concluded that violations of an employer's computer use policy did not amount to "exceeding authorized access" under the CFAA.
- Is It Legal For Someone to Share Your Revealing Photos or Videos for Revenge on the InternetIn this modern digital age, it is often common for romantic partners, particularly those in long distance relationships, to exchange revealing photos of one another. These photos are often intended for the eyes of the receiver only. But, how can you be sure? What happens if you break up or the other person turns out to be less discrete than you had hoped? Is it illegal for someone to share those photos with others?
- Is it Legal to Download TorrentsMost people understand that piracy of copyrighted works is illegal. But, many do not understand what piracy is or whether their role in the act of downloading pirated materials is a crime. Immense amount of data are downloaded everyday using file sharing programs called “torrent clients.” That means that millions of Americans are using torrents to share files, often containing pirated materials, which may leave you wondering, “Is it legal to download torrents?”
- A History of American Gaming LawsGambling is restricted in America, though its popularity is increasing. Laws regarding gambling are important not only for those involved with gaming operations, like casinos, bingo, or poker tournaments, but also for the average person who wants to know whether he can legally start a betting pool among his friends or at his office, has an idea for a new business model involving some form of chance, or if he can legally participate in an online poker tournament.
- Combatting Credit Card FraudCredit card fraud is a form of identity theft that involves an unauthorized use of someone's credit card information for the purpose of charging purchases to the account or removing funds from it. State and federal laws both come into play with relation to credit card fraud, as may your agreements with your credit or debit card issuer.
- Legal Considerations for Child Pornography CasesFew sex crimes bring more negative connotations to mind than those related to child pornography. In our computer age where information, images, and videos can be rapidly and easily accessed, this has become a growing area of concern. Although search engines have become better at filtering out inappropriate materials, it is still possible to occasionally come into contact with these matters, either intentionally or not.
- Combating Computer CrimeComputer crime is one of the fastest-growing types of illegal activity, both in the U.S. and abroad. Indeed, much of the computer crime Americans face is from foreign sources, making regulation of these activities by police authorities exceedingly difficult. While the Internet links people together like never before, it also provides endless opportunity to criminals seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities and trusting nature of others.
- Law against Internet Solicitation in FloridaInternet solicitation of children and teens has been a persistent problem following the immense popularity of the Internet as a means of information and communication. The state of Florida has put in place adequate laws to deal with this problem firmly and reduce the risk of Internet surfers becoming victims of such online solicitation.
- All Criminal Law Articles
Computer Crime Law - US
- Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)
In response to concerns that emerging technologies such as digital and wireless communications were making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to execute authorized surveillance, Congress enacted CALEA on October 25, 1994. CALEA was intended to preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance by requiring that telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment modify and design their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have the necessary surveillance capabilities.
- Computer Software Privacy and Control Act
To prevent deceptive software transmission practices in order to safeguard computer privacy, maintain computer control, and protect Internet commerce.
- Department of Justice - Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section
The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) is responsible for implementing the Department's national strategies in combating computer and intellectual property crimes worldwide. The Computer Crime Initiative is a comprehensive program designed to combat electronic penetrations, data thefts, and cyberattacks on critical information systems. CCIPS prevents, investigates, and prosecutes computer crimes by working with other government agencies, the private sector, academic institutions, and foreign counterparts.
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in 1998. The basic purpose of the DMCA is to amend Title 17 of the United States Code and to implement the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty, which were designed to update world copyright laws to deal with the new technology.
- Economic Espionage Act (EEA)
In addition to laws specifically tailored to deal with computer crimes, traditional laws can also be used to prosecute crimes involving computers. For example the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) was passed in 1996 and was created in order to put a stop to trade secret misappropriation.
- Electronic Communications Privacy Act
Passed in 1986, Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was an amendment to the federal wiretap law, the Act made it illegal to intercept stored or transmitted electronic communication without authorization.
- FBI - Cyber Crime Division
The FBI's cyber mission is four-fold: first and foremost, to stop those behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; second, to identify and thwart online sexual predators who use the Internet to meet and exploit children and to produce, possess, or share child pornography; third, to counteract operations that target U.S. intellectual property, endangering our national security and competitiveness; and fourth, to dismantle national and transnational organized criminal enterprises engaging in Internet fraud. Pursuant to the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace signed by the President, the Department of Justice and the FBI lead the national effort to investigate and prosecute cybercrime.
- Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers
Section 1030(a)(1) makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization or in excess of one’s authorization and obtain information about national defense, foreign relations, or restricted data as defined in the Atomic Energy Act of 19549, which covers all data concerning design, manufacture or utilization of atomic weapons and production of nuclear material. It is worth noting that section 1030(a)(1) requires proof that the individual knowingly accessed the computer without authority or in excess of authorization for the purpose of obtaining classified or protected information. Section 1030(a)(1) criminalizes the use of a computer to gain access to the information, not the unauthorized possession of it or its transmission.
- Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act
FOISA attempts to tackle the problem of criminals registering online domains under false identification, it includes a provision that would increase jail times for people who provide false contact information to a domain name registrar and then use that domain to commit copyright and trademark infringement crimes.
- Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008
To establish broadband policy and direct the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a proceeding and public broadband summits to assess competition, consumer protection, and consumer choice issues relating to broadband Internet access services, and for other purposes.
- National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996
The National Information Infrastructure Act (NIIA) was passed in 1996 to expand the CFAA to encompass unauthorized access to a protected computer in excess of the parties’ authorization.
- The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, first enacted in 1984 and revised in 1994, makes it certain activities designed to access a "federal interest computer" illegal. These activities may range from knowingly accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access to the transmission of a harmful component of a program, information, code, or command. A federal interest computer includes a computer used by a financial institution, used by the United States Government, or one of two or more computers used in committing the offense, not all of which are located in the same State. The Legal Institute provides Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which encompasses the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Computer Related Crimes Law
- CA Global Security Advisor - Viruses, Spyware, Malware and Worms
CA's Global Security Advisor is the place to check for current information on global threats that is researched and published via a network of rapid response centers around the world delivering: Comprehensive validated virus, spyware and vulnerability databases Clean-up utilities, detection signatures files and remediation instructions Valuable documentation on implementing complete threat protection and security management solutions.
- CAN-SPAM Act
Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.
- Computer Crime Research Center - Computer Piracy
Computer piracy is reproduction, distribution and use of software without permission of the owner of copyright. Kinds of illegal software use that can be qualified as copyright violation: - selling of computer facilities with illegally installed software; - replication and distribution of software copies on information carriers without permission of the copyright owner; - illegal distribution of software through communication networks (Internet, e-mail, etc.); - illegal use of software by the user.
- Computer Hacking Laws
The news said that another person had their identity stolen. It happened again. You might even know of someone that had it happen to them. We often hear of percentages - and they are surprisingly high. Enforcement is taking place, but we have to wonder if computer hacking laws are really having any effect against cyber hacking. This article will show what is being done against cyber crime.
- CyberStalking and CyberHarassment Laws
States have enacted "cyberstalking" or "cyberharassment" laws or have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within more traditional stalking or harassment laws.
- Denial-of-Service Attacks
In a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, an attacker attempts to prevent legitimate users from accessing information or services. By targeting your computer and its network connection, or the computers and network of the sites you are trying to use, an attacker may be able to prevent you from accessing email, web sites, online accounts (banking, etc.), or other services that rely on the affected computer. The most common and obvious type of DoS attack occurs when an attacker "floods" a network with information. When you type a URL for a particular web site into your browser, you are sending a request to that site's computer server to view the page. The server can only process a certain number of requests at once, so if an attacker overloads the server with requests, it can't process your request. This is a "denial of service" because you can't access that site.
- Internet Investment Scams - SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which receives about 300 complaints a day concerning online scams, devotes one-fourth of its enforcement staff to computer-related offenses.
- Internet Scam and Hoaxes
Email hoaxes spread misinformation, waste bandwidth, and lessen the effectiveness of email as a communication medium. Hoax-Slayer helps stop the continued circulation of these hoaxes by publishing information about them. Hoax-Slayer allows Internet users to check the veracity of a large number of common email hoaxes. Information about new hoaxes is added on a regular basis.
- National Consumers League - Online and Internet Fraud
Our mission is to give consumers the information they need to avoid becoming victims of telemarketing and Internet fraud and to help them get their complaints to law enforcement agencies quickly and easily.
- Online Safety - Phishing
Phishing e-mail messages are designed to steal your identity. They ask for personal data, or direct you to Web sites or phone numbers to call where they ask you to provide personal data.
Computer Crime Law - International
Organizations Related to Computer Crime Law
- Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC)
- Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT)
- CERT Program
- Computer Crime Research Center
- Forum of Incidence Response and Security Teams
- G8 and the G8's Subgroup on High-Tech Crime
- High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA)
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- Internet Fraud Watch (IFW)
- IT Security and Crime Prevention - Interpol