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Policing Information Technology

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By michigan97
Words 529
Pages 3
Policing Information Technology
Bill Smith
July 11, 2012
Alisha Johnson


Policing Information Technology
Over the past 30 years technology has advanced at an alarming rate. Since the inception of personal computers and the World Wide Web a need for individual protection occurred. Government reform was needed. In the 1980s two Acts of Congress were passed, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Initially we will examine the advances in technology that caused each Act to be passed. Last we will determine what new ethical issues came about from this new technology. Although some may see these Acts as an invasion of one’s right to privacy, they are essential to protect stored information from being used in a negative way. “A survey by an ABA task force in 1984 estimated that businesses and government agencies lose as much as $730 million a year to computer crime” (Wolf, 1986). Two years after this survey was published the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. During this time computers are becoming widely used across the country. The major change is the type of information being stored. Financial institutions both in the private and government sectors are using computers to store valuable financial information. Computer hackers illegally could gain access to this information and sell it to individuals with the means to use it or vandalize the company’s system by inserting a virus. Basically a modern age criminal had been created because of advances in information technology. Instead of physically breaking into a building to steal, the modern criminal can accomplish this from his or her own computer. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act defined these criminal activities and dished out severe penalties for breaking them.
It is not only important to protect big business and the government in regard to information technology, but also individuals as well. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 was created to protect an individual’s privacy concerning e-mail, voicemail, and remote computing services. The previous law did not cover any of these new technologies. This made gaining access to information electronically much easier. Currently in order for this information to be viewed law-enforcement agencies must use the courts. “It was believed that strengthening privacy through ECPA would create a principle that privacy is beneficial for both consumers and businesses” (Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 2002).
When it comes to enforcing information technology there is a fine line between protection and invading one’s privacy. Both the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act were put into place due to the many advances of information technology. It was also important for these Acts to identify clearly the issues concerning the new technology and offer strict punishment to those who go against them. Information technology is constantly changing and so to must our laws.

Electronic Communications Privacy Act. (2002). Encyclopedia of New Media: An Essential Reference Guide to Communication and Technology. Retrieved from
Wolf, N. (1986, September). Hackers Beware. ABA Journal, 72(9), 32.

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