From spam and viruses to identity theft and hackers, there seems to be no end to the ways criminals can use computers. So how we can keep ourselves safe? Fortunately for those of us in the Badger State, Wisconsin has laws in place to help protect us from online theft or fraud. Here is a brief overview of computer crimes laws in Wisconsin.
Most people have heard of “hacking.” But there are many state laws that identify and prohibit offenses collectively called “computer crimes,” which can include a variety of offenses such as hacking into a secure network, damaging a computer system, or even large-scale spam operations. Wisconsin computer crime laws require the act to be willful and an attempted computer crime is not subject to prosecution.
Computer Crime Laws in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s computer crime statutes are highlighted in the chart below.
|Mental State Required for Prosecution||Willfully, knowingly|
|Misdemeanor Computer Crimes||Offenses against computer data and programs class A misdemeanor; offenses against computers, computer equipment and supplies is class A misdemeanor|
|Felony Computer Crimes||Offenses against computer data and programs is if offense is to defraud or obtain property, class I; if damage greater than $2500 or act causes interruption or impairment of govt operations or public utility or service, class D; if offense creates risk of death or bodily harm to another, class F; offense against computer, computer equipment or supplies is class I if offense is done to defraud or obtain property; class H if damage is under $2500; and class F if act creates risk of death or bodily harm to another|
|Attempt Considered a Crime?||No|
|Civil Lawsuit Permitted?||Aggrieved party may sue for injunctive relief|
Computer crimes, also called “cyber” crimes, can include:
- Interference with another person’s computer access or use;
- Use of a computer in a scheme to defraud;
- Use of encryption in aid of a crime;
- Improper access to a computer, system, or network;
- Improper use, copy, modification, damage, or disclosure, of programs or data;
- Introduction of a virus or other contaminant into a computer system or network;
- Falsification of e-mail source information; or
- Theft of information service from a provider.
To help protect yourself against computer crime, be sure to install quality antivirus software on your own computer and keep sensitive data like social security numbers, bank account codes, and passwords as private as possible.
Wisconsin Computer Crimes Laws: Related Resources
Understanding computer crime laws can be a daunting task. You can visit FindLaw’s Cyber Crimes section for more articles and resources. You can also contact a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney if you would like legal advice regarding a possible computer crime issue.