Guest Blogging at Balkinization:
Starting next week, I'm going to be guestblogging over at Balkinization about the emerging academic field of computer crime law. I'm presently writing a casebook on computer crime law for West Publishers, and working on the casebook has pushed me to think a lot about the field and its prospects. While I may be delusional, or just overly optimistic, my instincts tell me that computer crime is going to develop into an upper-level elective offered at most or all law schools within a decade or so. I'll be blogging about the basic themes of the course, why it will become more important over time, and why it will help eclipse more general courses in "cyberlaw." I may also blog about some other topics if the mood strikes me. In any event, stop by if you're interested.
Joshua Lowe (mail):
Hi Orin,

As someone who is interested in this burgeoning field, I would like to see more of a discussion surrounding the legal ramifications of unsecure wi/fi networks, especially relative to negligence theory and liability...

I understand there are some cases currently that trying to work out the particulars of what happens when someone uses your bandwidth to comit a wrong without your consent.

Coment on this please?
8.26.2005 9:29pm

If our question is whether accessing an unsecured wi/fi is a crime, see my NYU article that can be downloaded from my SSRN homepage. If your question concerns civil liability for hosting unsecured wi/fi networks, then I'm afraid that's beyond the scope of the field; my interest is criminal law, not civil law.
8.26.2005 9:57pm
3L (mail):
In writing my (not to be published, alas) journal note I submitted last year, I often referred to a NY Times Magazine article on computer virus-creators. The article was absolutely fascinating. What stood out in a legal sense was that the creators of the viruses were often not the same as the people who sent them out (so-called 'script kiddies'). So the virus-creators could claim to be innocent, and even incredulous that something they designed could cause so much harm. They considered themselves artists, and felt no responsibility for the script kiddies who actually released the viruses 'into the wild.' To me this would be something worth discussing, especially along the lines of criminal liability. Who deserves greater punishement, the virus-creator or the script-kiddie?
8.27.2005 1:07am
Dan1 (mail):
For me, as a computer scientist with no legal background, I'm interested in why the government seems to have so much more power to go through people's computers in situations where they can't seize all of a person's unopened mail or personal notes and other work...
8.27.2005 2:42am
I have to say, as a layman interested professional, rock on, Orin.

I'm not asking for any comment here, but I do run various machines, whom about 700 (I'm guessing, but that's about right) use, for money.

I rotate logs weekly, so that I can (try to) see if people are being abusive, and (again, this is an attempt, and not the total of defensive measures) if somone attacks.

I do wonder if, say, one of my users does something illegal (let's pick the favorite, assume they trade kiddie porn). As an small ISP operator ( so I can't afford AOL class lawsuits), I really feel I'm poorly covered by existing law.

I know the answer is to get an attorney, and I have one. We've bounced a few stock DMCA notices, and enforced one. I fear, and I'm sure it is coming, the lawsuit about porn, or meth lab production, or something, and that will probably kill my company, because I can't afford to defend against the fed. Bah, maybe the belief is that everything is better if you can't get to the net, except for AOL and Earthink. Our attorney told us we're too small to afford the space - she suggested we get bigger, with more cash, or risk it. Given that we write nothing but original software, I'm being a little hard-nosed here. Sue me. Not that I can win, but I like building new things, instead of building a company that rent seeks on other's rent seeking. I may go to law school soonish (I want to), but damn (excuse me(, this is just rude.

I'm still learning swedish, and my partner found a loophole.

Um, yes, I got a little off-topic there. Sorry. See you in Finland!
8.27.2005 4:25am
Orin, at least in my case, any class on computer crime wouldn't "eclipse" my cyberlaw class, because I barely even touch on criminal matters. (Due both to lack of expertise and lack of time -- there's too much material as it is!) I haven't looked carefully, but I think this is true of most cyberlaw classes, which tend to focus on civil matters. So the two courses could happily coexist.
8.27.2005 3:15pm
Jack S. (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr

Not sure what your major focus areas are, but it seems to me that enforcement is a major issue. Computer crime can be done from virtually anywhere in the world and actually capturing and prosecuting the offender can be a major effort. Only the largest (in terms of damage and therefore money) seem to garner the international cooperation that is required to catch those who are responsible when they aren't within the borders of where the crime actually caused the damage.

So if you can catch them, then the caselaw can be made.
8.27.2005 5:18pm