In the United States, different states have passed various laws with regards to computer crime. This has been necessitated by the numerous acts of hacking into public and private computer systems by individuals or groups, something that has brutalized computer use all over the world.
The computerization of almost every aspect of modern society means that information, sensitive or otherwise is stored in computers and thus the risk factor rears its ugly head that other unauthorized users can access that same information. The safe guards meant to keep such information safe have more often than not been rendered ineffective by highly skilled hackers.
Any device vital to national security that is controlled using computers could be used against the U.S if it ever fell into the wrong hands. It was therefore deemed necessary to pass laws regulating the use of computers in a bid to promote safety when using them (New York State Law, 2009). This study is about the laws of the state with regard to the use of computers and the abuse thereof. Computer crime is divided into three categories according to Flexispy (2010);
1.1. Illegally obtaining computer materials such as hardware, software, and peripherals.
1.2. Crimes targeting computer networks and or devices. Hacking and the generation of viruses, worms etc fall under this category.
1.3. Committing crimes by using computers and computer networks. Piracy of music, movies, software, and cyber terrorism falls under this category.
The New York state law according to the Legal Directories (2011) has criminalized the unauthorized use of a computer, computer trespass, tampering with a computer; this has four degrees, pirating of computer materials, “class e felony”, unlawful possession of computer materials and Unlawful entry into a computer “class e felony”, unauthorized use of a computer, ”class a misdemeanor”. Tampering with data,” class d felony” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010).
2.1. If anyone violates these laws his/her defense can be that he /she had logical grounds and or rights to tamper with, reproduce, destroy and or use the computer and or material in contention but if found guilty, is subject to punishment as provided for by the law( New York State Law, 2010).
2.2. The Alabama computer crimes act criminalizes the unauthorized access of data, software, or any material within a computer, its manipulation, destruction, examination, and possession (Iron Geek, 2011). The violation of such would constitute a violation of intellectual property rights. If the damage caused to the said intellectual property exceeds ($2500), and or it results in the disruption of any public utility or service, the offender is guilty of a class b felony. Unauthorized removal and alteration of data causing physical harm to a person not involved in the crime is categorized as a class a felony (Cornell University Law School, 2012).
2.3. The modification willful or otherwise of any equipment that is used or intended for use in a computer is guilty of an offence against computer equipment and supplies. This crime is classified as a class a crime. Samson (2012). Alabama computer crime Act.
The laws against computer related crimes are broad in both states but adequately address the problem of cyber crime and other computer crimes. Most of the laws are similar in classification of crimes and in their definition of abuses, but differ in terms of penalties.
Cornell University Law School. (2012). Fraud and related activity in connection with computers. Retrieved from http://www.jjconline.net/abxqrtln368/PAD713/docs/Week4-5Readings/Federal/18U.S.C.1030.pdf
Flexispy. (2010). The world’s most powerful spyphone. Retrieved from
Iron Geek. (2011). State Hacking/Computer Security Laws. Retrieved
Legal Directories. (2011). Law and practice. Retrieved from
New York State Law. (2009). Offenses involving computers; definition of terms. Retrieved from http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article156.htm
New York State Law. (2010). Article 156 – Penal Law. Retrieved from,
Samson, M. (2012). Alabama computer crime Act, Internet Library of Law and court Decisions. Retrieved from http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article156.htm
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2010). United States computer emergency readiness team. Cyber threats to mobile devices. Retrieved from