virginia montecinoeducation and technology resourceshome


Computer Ethics, Laws, Privacy Issues

Some Computer Legislation 

(Laws can be amended and changed, so these may not be the most current.)

© Virginia Montecino

[picture of a bar]

George Mason University Responsible Computing Policy

*   *   *   * 
  ACM Computing and Public Policy
  ACM Moral Imperatives
  Center for Democracy and Technology - "to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies"

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 - Federal Trade Commission
  Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) - Criminal Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice
  Computer Legislation
  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

Computer Security Resource Center -  National Institute of Standards and Technology
  Consumer Protection - Privacy & Security  - Federal Trade Commission
  Copyright (including Internet issues) 
  Cyberstalked? Use Common sense - Wired News
  Electronic Privacy Information Center
  Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research in Cyberspace - American Association for the Advancement of Science, Program in Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law

GetNetWise - a public service brought to you by a wide range of Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations.

Internet Crime Complaint Center - partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Internet Fraud Watch - National Fraud Information Center
  Internet Privacy Coalition - to promote privacy and security on the Internet through widespread public availability of strong encryption and the relaxation of export controls on cryptography.
  Internet Resources on Media Law - edited and compiled by Karla Tonella, Univ. of Iowa

A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety - US Dept. of Justice, FBI Publications
  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  Report on Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry - Aug 99, US Dept. Of Justice
  Stay Safe Online - business and government organizations, this alliance works to educate you on the importance of protecting your personal computers from online intruders
Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics - CPSR Computer Professionalts for Social Responsibility
  WHO@ - Working to Halt Online Abuse - "a volunteer organization founded in 1997 to fight online harassment through education of the general public, education of law enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims"
  World Intellectual Property Organization
  Your boss may be monitoring your e-mail - December 1999)

Computer Legislation

(Laws can be amended and changed, so these may not be the most current) 
  Center for Law and Computers - Chicago-Kent College of Law
  Internet Law Library -  Law Moose World Legal Resource Center

CFAA-Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - 1986

It is a felony : 

  • to commit unauthorized access to a Federal computer system with the intent to steal or commit fraud or inflict malicious damage.
It is a misdemeanor: 
  • to traffic in passswords.
(enforced by Secret Service or other authorized federal agency) 

Electronic Communications Privacy Act -1986 

specifies which electronic communications are private and prohibits the unauthorized access to and disclosure of private communications. 

CDA-Communications Decency Act - 1996 

It a felony to transmit obscene or offensive material over the Internet.  This Act was challenged by the ACLU and the challenge was upheld.  The CDA was overturned in 1997. 

Web Copyright Law - 1997

An infringement of someone's copyright protected property valued at least $1000 can be prosecuted even if there is no profic from the crime.  The penalty can be from $100,000 to $250,000.  A jail term of up to 3 years may be imposed if the infringement is for a violation of property valued at over $2,500.00.  For a second offense, the violator could get 6 years in prison. 

COPA - Child Online Protection Act - 1998
 makes it a federal crime (penalties up to $50,000 per violation and a sentence of up to 6 months in jail) to transmit material that is harmful to children over the Internet for commercial purposes.  This act is being challenged in Federal Court as a violation of the First Amendment. 

Digital Millennium Copyright Act - October 28, 1998

sets new rules for downloading, sharing, and viewing copyrighted material online. It also sets new safeguards for software, music, and written works on the Internet, and outlaws technologies that  crack copyright protection. The penalty can be up to $2,500 per act of circumvention. 

Virginia Computer Crimes Act

It is a felony: 

  • to use a computer to commit fraud
  • to maliciously access a computer without authorization and damage, copy, or remove files. 
It is a misdemeanor: 
  • to use a computer to examine private files without authorization
SAFE  - 1999
The House Judiciary Committee approved the Safety and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act of 1999 (H. R. 850) on March 24. The legislation would relax U.S. export controls on encryption, but contains a controversial provision that creates a new federal crime for the use of encryption to conceal criminal conduct.  The legislation, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), would give U. S. citizens the right to choose any type of encryption to protect their confidential information and prohibits the government from requiring a key to U.S. consumers' computer systems. 

Update as of July 13, 1999 - On July 13, 1999,  the House International Relations Committee passed the Security And Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act, sponsored by Bob Goodlatte, by a vote of 33 to 5.  Now it needs to go to the House of Representatives for a vote. 


For new legislation and challenges to existing legislation, see the Thomas- Legislative Information on the Internet (Library of Congress)
[picture of a bar]

virginia montecinoeducation and technology resourceshomeback to top


updated Oct 2011