New Massachusetts Computer Crime Law
The Massachusetts legislature has enacted, and on October 26 the
Governor signed into law, new legislation designed to punish and help deter
several forms of computer crime. Based upon the recommendations of a special
Computer Crime Commission established by the Governor in 1992, the new law
plugs several significant holes in Massachusetts Law.
Until now, although it was a crime to completely remove data from
a computer system without authorization, damaging data that is left on a
system and "snooping" in systems were not prohibited. The new law
Specifically, the new law:
The law also makes two improvements to Massachusetts procedural law that
will allow easier prosecution of computer-related offenses with less
disruption to legitimate business. Until now businesses whose systems
had been violated were deterred from actively prosecuting the offense
because they might be faced with prosecutors having to seize originals of
their computer and data files. The new law makes electronic copies of
these files admissible, thus allowing a business to maintain use of its
systems for ongoing operations. The new law also provides that computer
crime may be prosecuted and punished either in the county where the
perpetrator was physically located at the time he or she committed the
crime, or in the county where the computer system and data that was
accessed or corrupted were located at the time of the violation. This
means, for example, that a hacker accessing a Massachusetts-based
business's computers in Massachusetts from another state would be
susceptible to prosecution in Massachusetts.
- Prohibits unauthorized access to any computer system, either directly
or by network or telephone. The law provides that the use of password
authorization systems to control access to a computer system puts people
on notice that their access is unauthorized if they don't have a
- Amends the criminal vandalism statue to make it clear that
electronically stored or processed data is "property", the destruction or
corruption of which is illegal.
- Prohibits the thefts of commercial computer service.
Additional information on the new law, which is effective January 24,
1995, or on other computer-related legal issues, can be obtained from Greg
Moore (617)-951-7370) who was a member of the Computer Crime Commission.
November 18, 1994