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Judges Handing Down Hard Time For CyberCrime

Everyone knows that hacking into an ex-employer’s computer network, shutting down the email system and deleting core files will land you in prison. Federal laws were designed to catch these types of hackers and put them away. But what about you? Have you every violated any of the dozens of federal laws governing computer and Web site misuse? It might surprise you to know, but odds are you have. policeman_cartoon1

Do you carefully read the terms of use on every Web site you visit? Were you aware that violating those terms could result in twenty years in prison and a $1 million fine?

Recently, a federal judge sentenced a television news anchor, caught snooping through his co-anchor’s email, to six months of home confinement, 250 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. He was also summarily fired from his $700,000/yr job. Selling your company’s confidential information? That may just earn you a ten year all expense paid prison vacation. Sending threatening emails? Up to ten years in prison. Selling impostor watches on eBay? Seventy years. Even if you are acquitted, you may have to fight a costly legal battle a half a continent away.

The bottom line is that federal investigators are cracking down on cybercrime now more than ever before. More importantly, judges are handing down harsher and harsher sentences. Given the huge potential criminal penalties involved with something as seemingly innocuous as violating a Web site’s terms of use, it is well worth educating yourself about the dos and most-certainly-do-nots of cyberlaw.

Brett Trout

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