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California’s New Cybercrime Laws

The advancement of the Internet has led to a wave of new crimes. While technology improves rapidly, the law has struggled to keep up and adjust to new crimes that are being committed through technology.

In 2012, the Cyber Crime Protection Security Act was passed to punish people who try to access another person’s personal information through cyberattacks. The act also increased criminal penalties for fraud and related activities committed with a computer. 1

Let’s take a look at some new laws that have been passed recently that may affect how you use the Internet…

The Kill-Switch Phone Law

In hopes of reducing smartphone theft and sales of stolen cellphones, California recently passed the “Kill-Switch Bill” into law. Under the new law, all phones sold in California manufactured canstockphoto0436401.jpg after July 1, 2015 will need to have a kill switch button that allows users to remotely wipe all data from the phone’s memory and lock the phone, making it unusable. 2

Apple already integrated the technology into its iOS 7 operating system, and law enforcement agencies are reporting iPhone robberies are down. In San Francisco, iPhone theft is down 38% and it is down 20% in New York City and London. 3

While the goal of the law is to reduce cellphone theft, police will also be able to access the tool under California Public Utilities Code Section 7908. Police will be able to cut off service, but it will require a court order except in emergency situations that pose a threat of death or great bodily injury. 4

The Data Breach Notification Law

Chances are your personal information is in the hands of one or more companies. Addresses, credit card information and Social Security numbers could all be saved on company databases, but this may not be safe. In 2013, Target’s database was hacked, and more than 40 million accounts were accessed. 5

Taking effect at the beginning of this year, the Data Breach Notification law requires companies to notify customers if they have experienced a security breach. If your personal information is hacked through a company’s database, the company is required to send you a real-time notification. 6 The new law states that the agency must, “disclose the breach of security…in the most expedient time possible.” 7

The Minor’s Privacy Law

Minors are often targets of identity theft because they do not check their credit history. 8
A new law expected to take effect January 1, 2015 will protect minors’ personal information. Under the law, websites or online services that store information for K-12 students will be prohibited from selling or disclosing students’ personal information. 9

Encouraging responsibility from adults rather than the minors, the law will also apply to school districts, schools and teachers who operate websites that collect or store information from minors. 10

California is at the forefront of technological innovation. As a result, the state is exposed to cybercrimes and other criminal acts relating to the Internet. Do you think the state government is doing all that is necessary to prevent cybercrime? Are these new laws too invasive? Please share your opinion about this ongoing issue.


1. [https://beta.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/senate-bill/2111]
2. [http://www.pcworld.com/article/2598680/california-passes-law-mandating-smartphone-kill-switch.html]
3. [http://www.techrepublic.com/article/california-passes-new-smartphone-anti-theft-law-iphone-appears-to-already-comply/]
4. [Id.]
5. [http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/22/news/companies/target-credit-card-hack/]
6. [http://www.law360.com/articles/443201/calif-senate-passes-bill-boosting-data-breach-alerts]
7. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB46]
8. [http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft]
9. [https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1177]
10. [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_1151-1200/sb_1177_bill_20140220_introduced.htm]

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