It is clearly a crime to hack someone else’s computer. In addition to criminal penalties, Pen C §502 provides that the hackee who suffers loss or damages from a violation of the statute has the right to bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory damages and injunctive relief. But what about hacking into someone’s Facebook or Twitter account?
The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported about a woman who falsely accused an ex-boyfriend of raping her and then – when she felt police weren’t taking her complaint seriously enough – hacked into his Facebook account to send a threatening message to herself. That situation was handled as a “wicked” false accusation case, but it can easily be seen as a computer crime.
One of the nine listed violations in Pen C §502(c) seems to cover not only hacking a computer, but hacking into a person’s social media accounts:
Knowingly accessing, and without permission altering, damaging, deleting, destroying, or otherwise using, any data, computer, computer system, or computer network, either to devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort, or to wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.
There doesn’t appear to be a California case applying this statute to social network hacking yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time. What do you think?
On computer crimes generally, check out §18.16 of CEB’s Internet Law book.
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