TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: minnsot1.txt

Minnesota Invokes Computer Crime Law


	Several Other States Are Attempting to Implement Similar Measures

				By Rachel Parker

ST. PAUL, MN. -- In the wake of the computer virus scare, the state of
Minnesota is getting ready to implement the first computer crime law
directed at individuals who distribute destructive software.

The Minnesota Computer Virus Crime Bill was passed and signed into law
in May.  The law will take affect August 1, and will apply to crimes
committed after that date.

The new law prohibits the "intentional distribution of destructive
computer programs," which are defined as programs that degrade the
performance of or disable a computer, peripheral, or programming.  In
addition, any program that produces unauthorized data -- which
includes data that simply takes up memory space -- or alters data, is
also considered destructive.

"We are trying to get the message out to programmers that they have to
be responsible in their programming," said Daniel Kluth, a Minneapolis
attorney who drafted the new law.  "We are raising the stakes", he

The law is accompanied by penalties ranging from a small fine and 90
days in jail -- for crimes that do not result in any damage to a
computer system -- up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines for
crimes that result in more than $2500 worth of damage.

The Minnesota law is one of the first computer crime bills to
specifically address the issue of computer viruses and Trojan Horses.
Maryland and West Virginia recently passed computer virus crime bills,
and several other states, including California, are working on similar
measures, according to Kluth.

In addition, two Congressman have proposed laws that would make the
distribution of harmful computer code a federal crime.

The computer industry is taking a leading role in these laws
principally to prevent viruses from tarnishing its reputation.

"We looked at existing crime statutes, and it was not clear that a
virus is a crime," Kluth said.  "From the developers standpoint, of
course, it is a crime because it can sink a small company by damaging
its reputation."

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