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Abuse Using Technology

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July 14, 2017

What types of laws protect me from computer crimes?

There are several federal laws that address computer crimes, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Wiretap Act. Additionally, many states have individual laws that protect a person against hacking. The law in your state may be called hacking, unauthorized access, or computer trespass (or by another name) depending on your state’s laws.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has complied computer crime laws on their website and state phishing laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures has also compiled spyware laws on their website. You can also check our WomensLaw.org Crimes page in your state to see if we list any relevant crimes.

Additionally, you may also have an option to use the civil legal system to combat computer crimes. For example, you may be able to sue the abuser in civil court for the misuse of a computer. When you sue a person in civil court, you can ask for money “damages” based on what you lost and other harms that you experienced. You may also be able to ask a civil court, including family, domestic relations, or divorce courts depending on your state, to order the person to stop committing computer crimes by asking a court to include protection provisions in a restraining order. If you have a restraining order, committing a computer crime may also be a violation of the order. Violating a restraining order could mean that the abuser committed contempt of court (an offense that could have civil and/or criminal consequences). You can find lawyer referrals on our WomensLaw.org Finding a Lawyer page if you want to try to get legal advice or representation or you can contact the National Crime Victim Bar Association for a lawyer referral.