Frequently Asked Questions about Internet Crime

If you are facing charges related to child pornography, working closely with an attorney who will explain your rights and options can help you make decisions that are in your best interests. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced Internet crime attorney.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Crime

Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Crime

Q: Is spam illegal?

A: Some types of spam (unsolicited, typically commercial email) may violate state or federal law. The federal CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) of 2003 prohibits certain deceptive practices and requires that commercial emails contain a way for recipients to "opt out" of receiving emails in the future. Some states also have their own laws against spam.

Q: Is filtering software on my home computer enough to protect my kids?

A: While protective software is a start, it is only a first step. Filtering programs are not always 100 percent effective, and your children can access computers from locations outside the home. You should speak with your children about the dangers of the Internet and make sure they know what to do in difficult or dangerous online situations.

Q: Can I be prosecuted for inadvertently passing along an email that contained a virus?

A: Current legislation addressing cyber-crime makes it illegal to knowingly send out a virus. As long as you had no part in creating the virus and you were unaware it was being distributed, you are not criminally liable.

Q: Can I avoid prosecution for copyright infringement by putting a disclaimer on my website saying that there is no intent to infringe upon anyone else's copyrighted material?

A: Simply put, no. In fact, such disclaimers may even help to prove that you (the website operator in this example) knew that your conduct was unlawful, thus helping the prosecution make its case that the infringement was done knowingly.

Q: Could I be prosecuted for child pornography for emailing my family pictures of my toddler taking a bath?

A: It is highly unlikely that charges would result in this instance. There have been news stories about people being investigated or prosecuted on child pornography charges for taking innocent photos of their unclothed children, but these cases haven't resulted in the conviction of the parents who took and distributed the pictures. Under federal law, child pornography is defined as pictures that demonstrate "lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area," something that wouldn't typically be present in a family snapshot.

Q: Who makes the laws that govern the Internet?

A: Because the Internet is global, there is no single governing body enacting or enforcing laws policing behavior on it. In the U.S., both state and federal legislatures have passed laws applicable to certain transactions and interactions that take place online. Each country has their own statutory scheme for regulating Internet content, commerce and usage.

Q: How do I report an Internet crime?

A: The national Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) investigates complaints and refers them to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agencies. If you are unsure about who to contact, start with the IC3. For crimes involving child pornography or child exploitation, or piracy, you can contact the IC3 or your local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When an Internet crime involves financial transactions or banking (such as "4-1-9 scams"), the U.S. Secret Service should be notified, and the Secret Service, FBI and Federal Trade Commission all handle cases involving fraud, including identity theft.

Q: Is it entrapment for a law enforcement official or other adult to pose as a minor on a chat site to catch people trying to solicit children for sex?

A: Probably not. This tactic usually holds up in court. The outcome of each case, however, depends on its unique circumstances. If you have been accused of an Internet crime, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Q: I've heard many news stories about cyberbullying. What is that?

A: Bullying is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are repeated, unwanted, aggressive behavior that plays upon a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying itself isn't necessarily illegal, but emails, text messages, postings on social media sites, chat rooms or other websites containing threats of violence, child pornography/solicitation/exploitation, invasion of privacy or stalking are against the law and should be reported to law enforcement.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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