Are You Breaking The Law On Your Computer?

March 17th, 2010

This morning I was reading an Tech article about different ways we could be breaking the law with our computers and I decided that I’d share it with y’all. I won’t share the entire article, but I’ll share the main points (the 10 things), without going into great detail, but I’ll provide a link at the end of the entry so y’all can read the entire thing if you’d like.

Do you remember the days when everyone thought that the Internet was a ‘free for all’? I do. Because the Internet was so new, people pretty much got away with all sorts of things simply because there was no regulations and laws for crimes committed in a virtual world. I encountered many people who felt that they could do what they want from the comforts of behind their computer screen without ever having to worry about getting in trouble. This also includes the guy who stalked me in the mid-90’s. It started online and escalated to him calling me from a payphone around the corner from my house at the time. Those were scary times, but I learned a lot from that experience and also spent the next 4 years of my life working as an online safety advocate, helping educate others of the dangers of the Internet.

There are people who still have the mentality that everything goes on the Internet, but not realizing that in the virtual world there are rules and regulations and even laws to follow. As per the TechRepublic article, ten are below. You don’t have to tell me if you’re breaking any of them. I don’t really want (or need) to know, but if the guy’s in black come knockin’ on your door, at least you can’t say you weren’t warned.

10 Ways You Might Be Breaking the Law With Your Computer

  1. Digital Millennium Copyright (DMCA) Act- Simply put, this means DO NOT overwrite, or circumvent any sort of copyright protection software, because it’s there for a reason and if you bypass it, you’re doing something that isn’t allowed.
  2. No Electronic Theft (NET) Act-  Burn a movie, cd, song (you get the picture) for a friend and you’ve done a serious no-no.  Oh, and this also includes sharing them and uploading to a p2p (peer 2 peer) websites.
  3. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)- This is a treaty between the United States and some other countries which allows the governments to work together to collect data and information when certain laws are being broken, or counterfeit items are being created and sold. (Think pills, fake bags etc)
  4. Court rulings regarding border searches-  Simple. You enter the country with your laptop, PDA, “eye”phone  or anything of the like,  they have the right to search them all without any probable cause because you are entering the country and have crossed the ‘border’.  
  5. State and federal laws regarding access to networks-  This means that technically you are supposed to have permission from the owner to access any network and without it, you’re technically breaking the law.  (Yes, this includes unsecured wi-fi networks, so think about that next time you swipe your neighbors wi-fi connection.)
  6. “Tools of a crime” laws- I guess this would be similar to having drug paraphernalia even if you don’t have the drug because this law says that if you have things that could be used as a tool in a cyber crime then you can be held accountable, even if you haven’t actually committed the crime. 
  7. Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying laws- I could write a book about this, but the bottom line is, Don’t DO IT!   Don’t be a bully in the real or cyber world, and seriously people stalking is just crazy.   Try a water paint class instead.
  8. Internet gambling laws- I can’t imagine why anyone would want to gamble online, but if you do- you may want to check the laws in your area because in some States, it’s illegal.
  9. Child pornography laws-  They can’t be strict enough about this one in my eyes.   If you have child porn on your computer, or in your possession at ALL, it’s illegal and I hope you get caught.   This is the thing I hate most about the Internet, is that it allows these sickos a gathering place to prey on children, which is why its important to teach yourself AND YOURSELVES to be smart while online.     These people are much smarter than you give them credit for, and you should know what your children are doing online at ALL TIMES!  
  10. Pro IP Act-   This law actually means that if you are guilty of copyright infringement that they have the right to seize your ‘stuff’. 

I thought these were really interesting and I hope that you did too.    The commentary beside each law is my own, but if you’d like more information about how things are explained in the article, you can click here. Original article written by: Debra Littlejohn Shinder

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