How far do anti-hacking statutes extend?

An appellate court in Ohio was recently called upon to analyze that state’s cybercrime statute, OCR Ann. §2913.04, which criminalizes unauthorized access to protected computers.  In Ohio v. Wolf the court held that a city employee who was using a city computer during work hours to view pornography, visit adult “dating” websites, and solicit sexual activity, had exceeded his authorized access to the computer and was guilty of the felony of “unauthorized use of property; computer, cable, or telecommunication property or service” (or “hacking”). The court concluded that the employee has exceeded his authorized access despite the fact that there was no city computer use policy or software that placed limits on employees’ use of city computers.

This ruling, which appears to expand the scope of anti-hacking statutes, has been criticized in the media. For a detailed analysis of the case, see the Wired article “Court Upholds Hacking Conviction of Man for Uploading Porn Pics from Work Computer”


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