Pa. makes spreading computer viruses illegal
- By Daniel Keegan
- Jul 03, 2000
People who intentionally spread a computer virus face a seven-year prison
sentence and a $15,000 fine in Pennsylvania now that Gov. Tom Ridge has
signed a new bill into law. The bill also requires that restitution be paid
for any damages caused.
The bill, which passed the state House and Senate unanimously, makes computer
hacking — including denial-of-service attacks — and the willful spread of
a computer virus a crime. It also defines a computer virus for the first
Existing law regarding the unlawful use of a computer does not include the
introduction of a computer virus as an offense, only the unlawful affects
of its introduction.
The bill was written last year when the Melissa virus hit but was not
created in response to it, said Carmine Camillo, legislative adviser for
Sen. Jane Earll, the sponsor of the bill, which was introduced last year.
Accessing and damaging a computer or system is a felony of the third
degree, facing a seven-year sentence and $15,000 fine. Interfering with
a computer, system or network, or giving out a password or other confidential
information about a system, is a misdemeanor of the first degree, with a
maximum penalty of five years and a $10,000 fine.
If convicted, the defendant must repay the victim for the cost of repairing
or replacing the system infected, for lost profits for the period that the
system was not usable, and for replacing or restoring lost or damaged data.
Camillo said the level of restitution would be left to the judge.
Ridge signed the bill in May, and it goes into effect at the end of