U.S. legislators have passed statutes to address what they view as the increasingly large threat of computer hacking. This chapter looks at some of the commonly used laws to prosecute people who access computers, software, or data without authorization or in excess of authorization: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, state computer hacking laws, section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the Economic Espionage Act. Section 2701 of the Stored Communications Act, which penalizes individuals for hacking stored communications, such as email, is discussed in Chapter 7, along with the rest of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The laws discussed in this chapter provide government prosecutors with the ability to bring criminal charges against individuals who hack computers without authorization. In some cases, conviction on a single count of these laws can result in a prison sentence of ten or more years, as well as severe fines. The laws also allow the victims of computer hacking to bring civil suits to recover damages from the hackers and obtain injunctions to prevent further damage.
Unfortunately, some anti-hacking laws were written before the arrival of many technologies that are now commonplace in computer networks and systems. Accordingly, in many cases there are disagreements about ...