Just think for a moment about all of the information that the Texas state government stores on its computers. Do you ever wonder about the emails that got sent to Governor Rick Perry last week from his staff after he announced that Texas potentially could secede from the United States? I’m sure there were a few interesting exchanges. Or, how about all of the records of court proceedings that have been sealed because they reveal intimate information about a celebrity or details that must be left private for future investigations? Millions of social security numbers can be pulled from the screens, from which endless details concerning a person’s income, family history, and entire identities can be stolen. The desire to tap into the state’s computer system must be pretty tempting for someone who is already inclined towards illegal activity. One legislator in Austin wants to prevent such computer hackings from occurring by increasing the penalties for those who are caught.
Senator Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, wants to increase the punishment for hacking into the computer systems of either the state government or a “critical infrastructure facility” from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony. Those found guilty of the crime would face up to two years in a state jail or even more prison time if the hacking results in more serious consequences. This penalty would hold true even if the criminal did not succeed in stealing any data from the computer system.
State and federal governments are in a constant struggle to keep up with the new ways that people find to use computers for nefarious purposes. From cyberbullying to email spamming to viruses cloaked as a friendly birthday card, laws are just now being written and legitimized by the courts to protect victims from the evils that lurk within their computers. Hacking of government files is yet another that our elected officials are now addressing.
The criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP are following this bill, as well as all other current legislation affecting criminal law in our state, to make sure that we are always able to give our clients the best possible representation. If hacking of government computers becomes a more serious crime but you get succumb to the urge to tap into the private records of the Texas Department of Agriculture, we can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio if you find yourself of any crime and let’s discuss your case.

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