Computer Fraud

Computer FraudMany people confuse computer fraud with Internet fraud, and while the two are certainly related, they do not denote the same type of activity. As you can find out under the “Internet Fraud” tab above, online fraud has to do with (as the name suggests) fraud committed through the Internet, while computer fraud does not necessarily have to be committed online.

Computer fraud rather has to do with illegally accessing unauthorized computers and computer networks for purposes of gathering data and committing further fraud. In the United States, to prevent the occurrence of computer fraud and the hacking of sensitive servers owned by the government or private institutions with a vested Federal interest, Congress passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 (mind you, about a decade before the Internet became popular), which defined computer fraud and set punishment for fraudulent activities involving Federal computers, or the computers of institutions involved in interstate commerce (falling into the regulatory powers of Congress under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U. S. Constitution).

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was further strengthened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. Another bill, proposed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007, which passed the Senate but was not voted on in the U. S. House of Representatives. That proposal would have eliminated certain restrictions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to allow for ever stricter prosecution of identity theft and computer crime.