indicated, for instance, that a system operator may have difficulty detecting a fraudulent (i.e., stolen) user identification, particularly one forged by an expert. As Mitchell D. Kapor, co-founder and chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, "There's always some tiny fraction of the elite that is, in fact, technically capable of inflicting huge amounts of damage. …"

For those cases in which damage does occur, some remedy may be found in the law, though even this remedy is subject to the caveat that its efficacy depends on the reality of enforcement. If a district attorney refuses to prosecute or the civil courts take too long to handle a lawsuit, the determination of trespass or theft becomes an academic discussion.


A computer club at a local high school sets up a dial-in bulletin board, using equipment bought for the club by a banker whose son is club president. The bulletin board is set up at the club president's home, and it can exchange messages with other bulletin boards across North America. The banker also has a computer system for working at home that is tied directly into the club's computer; the banker's computer is used to write a public newsletter for his bank. The telephone number of the bulletin board is distributed through a national magazine, and over time, the following activities are taking place on the bulletin board, although no club members are involved in any of these activities:

  • Stolen credit card numbers are posted;

  • Hate messages are sent to Canada, where such messages are illegal;

  • A program is posted in a public space by Joe, a nonmember, and others download the program and discover that it contains a virus that causes considerable damage; and

  • A second program is posted that is designed to disrupt network services when run on a computer connected to a national network such as the Internet or CompuServe.

Issue: Criminal Liability

Club members have no criminal liability for failing to monitor the activities in this scenario, said Scott Charney, chief of the Computer

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