NIPA: Added to CFAA

National Information Infrastructure Protection Act

The primary legislation addressing computer crime is 18 U.S. Code, Section 1030, also known as The National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996, which prohibits certain types of fraud and unauthorized access. The act was originally made in 1986 and amended in 1994, but the newly amended version in 1996 was an attempt to address the growth of computer crime and to centralize computer crime law. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Department of Justice decided it was easier to add to or modify existing computer crime law than change all other law potentially affected by computers. It is the CCIPS’s hope that as new technologies arrive, modifying Section 1030 may suffice. In any case, old law was insufficient to address the new nature of computer crime [“Section 1030” 1-2].

The law covers the following criminal activity involving breakins to protected computers:

  • anything against the U.S. government
  • unauthorized access allowing one to obtain financial records or government, interstate, or international information illegally
  • unauthorized access to nonpublic government computer
  • defraudulent unauthorized access for any value (but not just the computer itself, unless it is worth $5,000 or more)
  • causing damage through code or access (whether reckless or not)
  • transmitting password or other means of access if it affects interstate or international commerce or a government computer
  • transmitting a threat (through interstate or international commerce) to damage a computer with the intent to extort money [“Section 1030” 1-3]

Law enforcement, political subdivisions, and intelligence agencies are immune to the law. Also, civil cases can be brought, but only within two years of the date of the act or the discovery of the act. [“Section 1030” 7]


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