Thursday, April 04, 2002

The Golden State (hear that?)

Only a handful of cases have been decided under California's Penal Code Section 502. Lacking judicial guidance on how the statute should work when applied to the Celine scenario, a court would likely look to the legislative history and intent, part of which is spelled out in the statute: "It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to expand the degree of protection afforded to individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies from tampering, interference, damage, and unauthorized access to lawfully created computer data and computer systems. The Legislature finds and declares that the proliferation of computer technology has resulted in a concomitant proliferation of computer crime and other forms of unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, and computer data. The Legislature further finds and declares that protection of the integrity of all types and forms of lawfully created computers, computer systems, and computer data is vital to the protection of the privacy of individuals as well as to the well-being of financial institutions, business concerns, governmental agencies, and others within this state that lawfully utilize those computers, computer systems, and data." (Emphasis added.) In other words, "each" may be an option. A prosecutor could gauge that better than I.

But why limit it to criminal penalties (which require a D.A. or the Attorney General to get involved), when civil actions for compensatory damages - including "any expenditure reasonably and necessarily incurred by the owner or lessee to verify that a computer system, computer network, computer program, or data was or was not altered, damaged, or deleted by the access" - and injunctive or other equitable relief also are authorized for each computer owner who suffers damage or loss from activities barred by the statute? [Subd.(e)(1).] A court hearing such a case also has the discretion to award attorneys' fees to the injured party. [Subd. (e)(2).] If you listen closely, you can almost hear the "tap tap" of legal keyboards, cruising the Celine fan sites, seeking out the plaintiff class.

-Later: Better move to CA first, Jeneane, then give it a go.

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