Monthly Archives: April 2016

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Committed

download-15His friends had proper and authorized access to internal information at the company, but he was charged several times with various crimes including violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act based on obtaining information from a company for personal use. Because of a motion he and his lawyer filed to dismiss these charges, the issue became complex enough to be considered for dismissal by the Circuit Court.

The specific stipulation regarding his situation involved obtaining information from a company. According to the Act, a person must obtain information by accessing a protected computer or network without authorization for misuse. This usually involves hackers. Because he had his friends obtain the information, the actions did not contain unauthorized access or surpass valid access to the material. He was not a hacker either but a private citizen that no longer worked at the company. He obtained this information in order to start his own business that competes with the one he left. The Circuit Court dismissed the charges dealing with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to these stipulations of unauthorized access not being part of his actions. This dismissal of these specific charges went against three other Circuit Courts, but it was important as the precedent may allow violations of private computer use a federal crime in the United States.

Similar Cybercrimes and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

A similar instance occurred with a company employee accessing customer personal data through the use of her own employee computer despite the restrictions. She used this material for committing acts of fraud. This was charged with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to her surpassing authorized access to a computer with the intent to obtain or steal data for a criminal act of any kind. The specific stipulation applied was in direct line with what she did even though she was working for the company at the time. The access was authorized, but it was restricted for customer interactions only.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act allows for civil litigation when damages accrued are of at least $5000 during one year of activity. This may even be in affect when stealing or obtaining information. One such case included someone that obtained information from a password-protected network before leaving the company. The information taken involved financial reports of customers, pricing, the cost of products and profits over a period of time for customers of the business. This person then violated a confidentiality agreement he signed that restricts his actions and attempted to entice these customers to a competitor of the company at which he used to work. He also attempted to dismiss the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charges because he had authorized access to the information and did not surpass his authority to view and download the data. His dismissal was denied due to the limits already placed on the information he obtained through the document he signed.

Stipulations in Place

Jurisdiction is important to regard when examining and determining if there is unauthorized use of confidential information that may be accessed through computers. These may be specifically stated in a state or civil case within the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Usually, the access of undisclosed information of a private system may be in excess of $5000 in damages. That allows states and counties to pursue action when this unauthorized access is completed in any one year against those committing computer and internet crimes. This could allow a court to prevent the further misuse or access of the data that was stolen or obtained.

Trade Secrets, Intellectual Property and Proprietary Information

Federal and State crimes of theft of trade secrets have specific statutes applied against those stealing the information. This could be from employees that have taken the data, but the items must be classified as trade secrets, proprietary documentation or similar files that give some type of advantage over other competitors. Laws are also in place to allow prosecution of theft or appropriation of intellectual property. It is important to obtain a lawyer for any of these crimes being accused of any single person. Any type of computer and internet crime may be laid at the hands of someone other than the perpetrator.

Crimes become Crimes IRL

Virtual Reality

Some games allow a person to fly over cities in the virtual world created. Others permit the player to walk a tightrope set between buildings. Sports games have been created to provide a personal feel in the game as one of the players on the team. With the use of a virtual reality headset, an individual may view the first-person perspective and become a part of the reality he or she sees before him or her. This gives these persons a variety of particularly realistic experiences with a highly increasing resolution that is displayed across the helmet screen. However, even knowing the games are only illusion, a person may be hesitant to initiate that first step or first play in a sports game. The illusion is so real to the eye that the brain feels the emotions associated with the actions someone would take.

Virtual reality was created with the experience in mind. A person may immerse himself or herself in the world of the reality created within the game or network. This means walking a tightrope appears to be so real, the person may experience shaking legs or the vertigo of being so high up. Others may have experiences of anxiety, fear or excitement depending upon what the interface shows. It is important for those in these games to understand that the software is not real. The game is only a game, and it cannot interact with the real world. Even constant contact with the virtual arena may affect a person in this way until confronted with the deaths that games often provide.

Potentially Unethical

Some instances of games veer into the possibility of unethical experiences. This has been seen in movies, television and books throughout history. A person creates something that may be used or is used without the utilization of morals. This could be through virtual reality games that allow the player to kill others in ways that appear just as real is in the physical world. The planning and carrying through of a bank robbery to include the getaway car and killing law enforcement officers could be one facet of this evolution.

Through software development and engineering, a person skilled in the use of virtual reality may create a game that allows a person to molest and kill children of varying ages. Even though this would be created by an individual, it could be distributed to others. Doing so is considered a crime by law enforcement with all accompanying penalties of a child molester. Even within the safe confines of virtual reality, a crime is taking place. The images of these children would in most instances come from real children in the world. This would be possession of child pornography. Even if this is not a reality yet, it is possible for these actions to occur. Other such unethical actions may occur as well depending on the person that develops these games.

The Future of Virtual Reality Crimes

Though simulations such as the child molestation and killing example may not be in existence or known to exist to law enforcement agencies or software developers, it could be a possibility in the future as technology advances and evolves. The probability of unethical games being produced is possible in the current computer setting. As personal fantasies may be projected into the virtual world, the question most often asked is should they be. The human imagination is vast and unlimited, but ethics and morals often restrict a person from committing certain actions due to what is expected, what may be charged as a crime, and what is right and wrong.

It is important to apply laws to these possibilities as artificial intelligence and virtual reality have started to become part of the mainstream arena. As what was once science fiction is becoming part of the current world, it is essential to stop asking questions and implement regulations through law enforcement and create precedents for legal ramifications.

Escalated to a Federal Offense

When this occurs, the competition has what it needs to create the consumer base it needs to thrive as the original company did with the secret recipe, combination of ingredients or other secrets it possessed. While this may appear to be a corporate strategy to push ahead with customers, it is a crime. In some instances, it may be considered a federal crime with serious impact and penalties. The act of stealing these secrets is often enough to push the original place of business out of the market.

What is a Trade Secret?

A trade secret is often some device, technique, recipe or combination of factors that allows the company to create something original or different. The secret is usually only shared with those necessary to do the job for the business. When this involves food, the chef or baker may be given access to the secret in order to create the item in question. When a trade secret is involved in a company, it is regularly what drives consumers to the location for the goods. A customer base is then created upon the foundation of the secret, and word of mouth, as well as advertisement, spread the notion that the secret allows the company to formulate something better than the competition. In many instances, there is little or no competition when the secret is so different that competitors cannot recreate the same thing. This is often the case with something different such as electronics, software and items where you do not have to list the ingredients.

Trade Secret Lawsuits

When these undisclosed ingredients or techniques are stolen, the company or owner may file a lawsuit. This is usually what occurs due to the loss of business or the crippling of the company due to the discovery of how the technique is used or what is used to create something unique or different. Generally, these lawsuits are civil matters in a localized area. One plaintiff is charging a defendant with the theft. If the secret has not been disclosed to the public or another company, it is possible to mitigate the damage. That may save the business from customer loss and revenue plunges.

Certain instances may elevate the theft of trade secrets to the federal level of crimes. When these techniques or ingredients are stolen and smuggled to another country, the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 may be invoked as it is a federal crime to disclose trade secrets for the benefit of a foreign government. This also holds true if the thief personally benefits for the stolen secrets.

Economic Espionage Explained

There are some stipulations that govern the theft of trade secrets in regards to the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. These demand the stolen secrets to have been taken for any benefit of foreign governments, agencies or instrumental use of either. The person that stole these secrets must have had the intention or knew that his own actions would provide a benefit for some foreign government, agency or give an instrumental use of one or more foreign businesses. He or she did steal the technique or ingredient knowingly by either buying it, theft or possessing it with the intention of stealing it completely, taking it secretly, obtaining it in an unauthorized manner or converting the secret without permission. Another stipulation to be included with this act was that what was appropriated must be a trade secret.

The other section of this crime involves when the secret is misappropriated with the thief’s intention to convert it for his or her own benefit. This is anyone other than the owner. It could also be done to injure or harm the owner of the trade secret. This means it was taken or stolen with the sole purpose of benefiting anyone other than the original owner. The secret was given to the thief under false pretenses, purchased or possessed with the intention of converting it without permission of the person that created it or owned it or initially. The item, technique, ingredient or similar must have been a trade secret. The person that stole it did so with the intention or knowledge that the stolen secret would harm the owner. For these stipulations, the trade secret must be connected to or a component in a product produced with interstate commerce or sold with foreign companies.

Legal Channels

While not every instance is investigated, the factors must be met for a case to be opened. All evidence is sifted through by the Department of Justice with United States Lawyers to determine the crime, penalties and compensation.