Because people are more connected than ever before, there are growing numbers of crimes related to connectivity, known as cybercrimes. Cybercrime involves offenses committed using computers, digital devices or the internet.
In California, there are several ways the police can charge you with cybercrime, each carrying a different level of penalties. Understanding these can help you avoid the potential for inadvertently engaging in activities that are illegal.
Cyberstalking or participating in cyberharassment
Cyberstalking involves harassing or threatening another person online to the point where that person fears for their safety or the safety of their family. It may involve tracking, bullying or making threatening comments or posts on social media.
Phishing or stealing identities
If you attempt to deceive someone into revealing personal or financial information online, this is phishing. In California, phishing can lead to charges of identity theft. Identity theft involves using someone else’s personal identifying information for unlawful purposes.
Participating in unauthorized computer access
Accessing someone else’s computer, network or system without permission falls under unauthorized computer access. California law prohibits not only the unauthorized access of computers, networks or systems, but also the introduction of any computer contaminant or virus.
Being part of credit card fraud
Online credit card fraud is a common type of cybercrime. It involves the unauthorized use of another person’s credit card information to make purchases online or to sell the information to others.
Engaging in internet fraud
Internet fraud encompasses many types of fraudulent activity carried out over the internet. Common examples include auction fraud, where you misrepresent or do not deliver an item, and email spamming for fraudulent purposes.
Participating in illegal file sharing
Sharing copyrighted music, movies or software without permission can lead to charges of illegal file sharing. Despite being common, illegal file sharing is a crime and can result in hefty fines.
California takes a tough stance on cybercrimes. Engaging in any of these activities could lead to severe legal consequences. Be sure to respect others’ rights and privacy when navigating the digital world.