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Attorney General may relax computer crime law enforcement

Tech savvy Wisconsinites who are concerned about too much government oversight of Internet activities may be relieved to hear that the U.S. Attorney General is looking into allegations that computer crime legislation is being enforced too strictly, specifically as it relates to terms of use. However, at the same time, the Department of Justice is seeking to strengthen the penalties associated with computer crimes and stated that it does not want to give the impression that they are backing away from the prosecution of these white-collar offenses.

A Vermont senator asked the official if the AG's Office unfairly prosecutes minor and inconsequential, albeit technical, violations of the law. The chief AG responded that their office is investigating and monitoring the ways the statute is enforced and the types of crimes they prosecute. Although not yet a law, a committee has approved an amendment that keeps the DOJ from basing prosecutions on term of use violations alone. 

While the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has held offenders accountable who commit Internet crimes or computer fraud, some prosecutors have become overly zealous as they pushed the enforcement of minor violations that were merely technical and did not harm anyone. The AG now says he will monitor prosecutions more closely to ensure that the efforts of their agency are not wasted on frivolous accusations against those who don't deserve punishment.

Federal crimes can carry serious consequences, even for seemingly minor violations. A Wisconsin criminal defense attorney might be able to argue for offenders accused of breaking technical laws by showing they did so in ignorance and with no criminal intent.

Source: Tech President, "ICYMI: Eric Holder Says He's Open To Revisiting Computer Fraud and Abuse Act," Sarah Lai Stirland, March 7, 2013

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