Understanding the Laws Regarding the Internet
Over the last decade, using the internet has become a part of everyday life for many Americans. It provides cheap and easy access to a vast reservoir of information and entertainment and has also become a major source of commerce, being used by approximately one billion users worldwide. The internet has also become home to a myriad of criminal activities, and the United States government works constantly to track down offenders.
There are numerous crimes committed through the internet each and every day, and we have listed some of the most common crimes below. According to CrimeinAmerica.net, the majority of internet offenders come from California, Texas, Florida, New York, The District of Columbia and Washington. The main reason that offenders choose to use the internet to accomplish their criminal purposes is because there appears to be less risk involved.
Popular Types of Internet Crimes
Hacking can take several different forms and is viewed by many people as clever and harmless fun. The government views hacking as a serious invasion of privacy and a big threat to e-commerce, and those accused of hacking face serious prosecution. The following types of hacking are all illegal in Texas:
- Defacing – changing the content of another’s Web site
- Hijacking – redirecting someone who is trying to access a Web site to another site
- Accessing – entering a network that is intended to be privately accessed
- Bombing – overwhelming a site with continual messages in order to slow down or crash the server
Organizations throughout the United States are now employing white-hat hackers to test the security of their websites and web programs. While some hacking is committed “for fun”, other forms of hacking are done for financial gain; for instance, to obtain and sell credit card details. These crimes are heavily prosecuted in courtrooms throughout Texas and the United States by the federal government. Generally speaking, the punishment for hacking can include imprisonment up to three years and a fine. Trying to hack into a government protected system will result in imprisonment of 10 years and a heavy fine.
There are three common types of viruses: viruses, worms and Trojan horses. The first virus appeared in 1986, and as many as 200 new viruses are created every month. One of the worst viruses was released in August 2003 by an 18-year-old American who created Blaster.B, a virus that crashed huge systems like Air Canada. He was sentenced to eighteen months in jail and ten months of community service for this virus, which affected approximately 50,000 personal and business computers around the world. The creator of the Melissa virus was given a sentence of 20 months in federal prison, a $5,000 fine and other minor restrictions. The lesson to be learned here is that the Government is intent or prosecuting and will seek prison time.
One of the most common types of Internet crime committed involves tricking the users of certain sites into disclosing confidential information like passwords and account numbers in order to access their bank accounts. There are many different fraud strategies that are used to trick consumers who are on bank websites, commerce websites or websites of major corporations. One type of fraud, known as cramming, works by charging a customer for extra services for extra services in addition to what they signed up for. The Internet Crime Complaint Center receives an average of 25,000 complaints per month regarding internet fraud, and the most common complaints involve the non-delivery of payment/merchandise scams. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, fraudulent e-commerce transactions make up almost half of the annual fraud total in the United States.
A common Internet scam that is used today involves setting up a bogus website as a front for criminal activity. These websites also use “phishing”, a high-tech scam that deceives users into thinking that it is safe to disclose confidential information like Social Security numbers, bank account information, passwords and other sensitive information. The penalties for scams range based on a variety of factors, and a criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the specific consequences that apply to your case.