The Misery of Mitra: Considering Criminal Punishment for Computer Crimes


This paper analyzes the policies and philosophy of punishment for computer crimes under the post-Sept. 11th regime. I argue that the judicial discourse represented in Mitra represents a willingness to use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to go after defendants that cause trouble with critical infrastructures, the so-called “domestic terrorist.” This is manifested in the levels of punishments for such offenses and calls into question whether the traditional theories of punishment are applicable. I argue that as a policy, it makes good sense but the hazy definitions of terrorism may present problems for its success, and instead an approach that takes into consideration the perpetrators may help facilitate a resolution to this problem. I first give a discussion of the historical background and context to §1030. Next, I discuss the increase in punishment levels in § 1030. I then give a discussion about the pervasiveness of computer-chip technology and apply Mitra. Then, I analyze this in the context of theories of punishment, and discuss and present a solution to this slippery-slope problem.


Computer Law | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Internet Law

Date of this Version

November 2005