Cyber Laws You Might Not Know About

Depending on where you live, a comment you leave on Twitter or YouTube could violate certain cyber laws. These laws pertain to conduct on the Internet – and many netizens have no idea they even exist! A little bit of research could leave you startled about what seemingly innocent behaviors are actually against the law.

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Did your friend give you the password to his Netflix account? According to a US 9th Circuit Court ruling, that’s a felony.

It’s the unfortunate result of a rigid interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The court declared that password-sharing between two parties is wrong unless they both have explicit authorization from the site owner.

The average person doesn’t own Netflix, YouTube, or any of the major websites for which they might be sharing passwords. The decision made millions of Americans potential felons overnight. According to schneier.com there will be an appeal of the ruling; we can only hope it’s a successful one.

Laura Lian’s blog Shameless China made $7,000 per month. It helped her garner 220,000 loyal fans. But then, as Bloomberg reported, a single post cost her everything.

Internet authorities shut down her blog [with] no warning. It happened just after she posted an article mocking Chinese men’s hairstyles, including former President Jiang Zemin’s slick-backed coiffure.

“It didn’t dawn on me how serious the situation was,” Lian said. “I didn’t realize I was never getting back this account and all my followers.”

Laura Lian wouldn’t think she’s lucky, but it could have been worse. Particularly, if her website weren’t satirical and she was a known activist. Online activism in China or strong anti-government sentiments of any kind can get you arrested and tossed in jail.

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The May 2015 amendment to the United Kingdom’s Computer Misuse Act of 1990 was long overdue. And yet some adjustments have raised eyebrows, and even red flags.

For instance, certain “unauthorized acts” online could get you a life sentence. The problem is that legislators neglected to specify what those acts are. The vagueness of the law is frightening, as it leaves far too much room for abuse by authority figures.

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Men and women in selfies together? Very serious business in Iran. So much so that the Iranian football team was warned not to take selfies with female fans. The Iranian Football Federation’s moral committee claimed such an act might be used as a “political tool.” The organization threatened to punish violators.

Iranian women are banned outright from football games in their home country. Sadly, traveling abroad is their only opportunity to cheer their sports heroes in person. The idea that they are barred from taking selfies with athletes because of archaic and sexist thinking is rather sad.

You can laugh off memes and hashtags, but cyber laws? Not so much. What might seem like harmless fun could lead to a hefty fine or even jail time. Is a particular action really worth the risk? It’s best to do the research and find out.

What bizarre or little known cyber laws are you aware of? Please share them and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image Credits: Selfie Stick and Wikimedia Commons/Netflix

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