Recent news of the indictment of 12 Russian hackers for tampering and interfering with DNC emails and DP databases during the run up to the U.S. presidential election is a reminder of just how important and potentially damaging computer and cyber crime has become.
Computers have become an indispensable tool for modern life, as indispensable as cars became after the 2nd World War. Just as reliance on any other indispensable tool makes them liable to be used for criminal purposes, there is the potential for computers to be used for criminal purposes too.
In Alaska, the state’s computer crime laws specifically prohibit the use of a computer to steal, alter or destroy data or have unauthorized access to any other computer or network.
Credit card fraud the most common computer crime in Alaska
Like many other states, one of the most common examples of computer crimes is the theft of credit card numbers. The Anchorage Police Department (APD) receives reports from credit card fraud victims numbering in the thousands annually. Credit card fraud is by far the most common type of Internet fraud reported in Alaska.
One of the most characteristic features of this type of crime is that the card number theft could have been done from almost anywhere in the world. This does make it difficult for police to deal with this sort of crime and make an arrest. In fact, only if the alleged perpetrators of computer crime are located in Alaska can an investigation actually lead to an arrest. Of course, alert credit card holders are normally able to deal with credit card fraud through their card provider. The ready availability of the Internet and almost universal possession of a computer means that victims of fraud of this type can also deal with it quickly and effectively from almost anywhere in the world!
Computer crime is naturally a relatively recent phenomenon and its growth has paralleled the growth of ownership of personal computers and the availability of the internet. Less than 20 % of U.S. households were connected to the Internet twenty years ago. Ten years ago, that percentage had leapt to70%. Now, just about anyone who wants to be connected, is connected. That provides a huge new potential for computer and Internet crime.
Computer crime laws in Alaska
Anyone who is charged with a computer crime in Alaska faces a conviction for a Class C felony. There are many ways that you could use a computer illegally according to Alaska’s computer crime laws. You might not even realize you are using your computer illegally. If it is suspected that you are doing something illegal you could face arrest and imprisonment. If you think that you are under suspicion for computer crime you should arrange a meeting with an Anchorage criminal defense attorney to discuss your options and how a defense could be mounted if you are arrested and charged.
The Alaska statute for computer crime only makes it an offense if you ‘knowingly’ and ‘without reasonable grounds’ commit the offense. This remains the main grounds for a possible defense as there can be no basis for conviction if prosecutors cannot prove that either of these criteria are absent.
The Alaska computer crime statute (Code Section 11.46.740) is quite lengthy and complicated as it defines what constitutes the illegal use of a computer. An offense is committed if a person who knowingly and without reasonable grounds accesses another computer or computer network to do any of the following:
- obtain access to another person’s private information;
- introduce false information in order to damage or alter the data record or financial reputation of someone else;
- obtain information for free that is normally only available for a fee;
- tamper, disrupt, disable or destroy any computer or computer network;
- decrypt or encrypt data stored in another computer or computer network.
Contact an attorney if accused of computer crime
If you have been accused or face arrest for computer crime and believe that you are innocent, or your use of a computer has been misunderstood, you will need to have effective and decisive legal help. Contact Anchorage based criminal defense attorney Dattan Scott Dattan on 907-276-8008.