Consequences of Piracy & Computer Hacking

Written by hans fredrick
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Consequences of Piracy & Computer Hacking
Computer hackers break into secure systems for malicious purposes. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Online crime is still a relatively new phenomenon. Laws about things like murder and theft have evolved over hundreds of years but online crime has only been around for a few decades. As a result, lawmakers struggle constantly to adapt and implement laws that properly define online crimes and the suitable punishments for committing them.

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Media Piracy: Fines

The government has been working hard to crack down on piracy on the Internet. The FBI screen you see at the start of films is not simply a warning, but a real reflection of the types of punishment that you could receive for committing digital piracy. People receive large fines for pirating all types of media. For example, during a case in Minnesota, a woman was sentenced to pay £35,100 for every song she dowloaded illegally, although a later ruling in 2010 would lower that drastically to £1,462.

Piracy: Jail Time

Don't think that downloading music, movies or software is only going to land you with a fine in the worst-case scenario. Punishments hold the potential for being much more severe if a judge deems it necessary. Jail time of up to five years is a real possibility for media downloading. Repeat offenders are more likely to be sentenced to jail time than first-time pirates.

Hacking: Fines

The laws for hacking are complicated compared to those for piracy. The reason for this is because hacking only means accessing someone's computer without proper authorisation. However, the actions a person can take once in a system are varied. Stealing private information for personal use, for instance, might have different consequences that uploading corporate secrets to public websites. The laws are set by individual states regarding the punishments for hacking. In Nevada, hacking itself, for instance breaking into someone else's e-mail to send humiliating messages, could include a fine up as much as £650. The state is attempting increase fines to £3,250 along with jail time by making the crime a felony.

Hacking: Jail Time

People who hack into secure systems face the potential of punishment much more severe than a small fine. This includes situations where hackers have compromised government or corporate systems or stolen private information. Currently, the maximum prison sentence a hacker could receive is 10 years. However, the Obama administration wants to implement new laws that will up that maximum penalty. If the new law is passed, hacking that poses a threat to national security or which invades government systems could result in 20 years in prison.

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