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Illinois Computer Crime Prevention Law

The Illinois "Computer Crime Prevention Law" ( Illinois Compiled Statutes, 1996, Chapter 720, Article 5/16D) makes unauthorized computer use a criminal offense. There are three offense categories defined by the Law.

1. Computer Tampering

An individual may be prosecuted for this offense when access is gained to a computer, a program, or data, without permission from the owner. Unauthorized access, by itself, is a misdemeanor. Obtaining data or services is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses. Altering, damaging, destroying, or removing a computer, a program, or data, always is a felony. (These latter offenses include the use or attempted use of what commonly is referred to as a "computer virus.")

2. Aggravated Computer Tampering

This offense occurs when computer tampering has the intended effect of: (a) disruption of or interference with vital services or operations of State or local government or a public utility, or (b) creating a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to other individuals. These offenses are punishable as felonies.

3. Computer Fraud

This offense occurs when access to or use of a computer, program, or data is gained as part of a scheme to deceive or defraud. This includes the use of a computer to gain control over money, services, or property. In addition to its ordinary meaning, "property" in this context includes: electronic impulses, electronically produced data, confidential or copyrighted material, billing information, and software in any form. These offense are punishable as felonies.

A copy of the complete text of the Illinois "Computer Crime Prevention Law" is available for examination in Lovejoy Library or in the Office of the General Counsel.

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