Most people get online daily, but they might not realize there are many things that can lead to criminal charges stemming from online activities. It is imperative that anyone doing things online know that they aren’t running afoul of the law.
There are state and federal laws that govern the use of computers and online activities in this country. Having a basic understanding of what is forbidden can ensure that you aren’t doing anything that will land you in the criminal justice system.
Many types of actions are illegal
Some of the illegal activities are pretty obvious. You can’t use a computer to defraud someone or introduce a virus into a computer system. You can’t falsify information, such as email source information, while you are online. Stealing someone else’s identity and using it online is considered identity theft, which is fully illegal.
Other types of actions aren’t as obvious. For example, you can’t interfere with someone else’s ability to use or access a computer. You can’t improperly access a network, computer or system. It is also illegal to disclose, modify, damage, copy, or take data or programs without proper authorization.
One growing area of concern is cyberbullying. This includes sending harmful messages or passing around damaging or untrue information online. These instances can be charged under several different statutes, and there are a growing number of states that are introducing anti-cyberbullying laws. These might be considered hate crimes in some instances, which can mean serious criminal charges are forthcoming.
Preventing computer crimes
One of the best ways that you can avoid committing a computer crime is to use basic common sense. If something doesn’t seem like a good idea, don’t do it. Think twice before you post things on social media that might be construed as a threat or defamatory. By taking a few minutes to think about how things might come across, you may be able to save yourself some trouble.
People facing criminal charges related to computers should ensure they know what options they have for their defense. This varies greatly based on the circumstances, so don’t focus on what worked for another case.