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Viruses and the Law: Why the Law is Ineffective

John Montana
Information Management Journal, Oct 2000 v34 i4 p57
ISSN 1535-2897
October 2000

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Increasingly, the Internet and electronic document interchange are required business tools. Where even a few years ago, Web sites and e-mail were novelties, and e-commerce virtually non-existent, these are now commonplace. Businesses of any size have Web sites, e-mail is ubiquitous, and e-commerce is booming.

Unfortunately, the increase in Internet usage and dependence has been accompanied by a commensurate increase in illegal and improper activities. Some of these phenomena are merely electronic versions of older activities - stock kiting, pyramid schemes, and the like, while others are uniquely Internet-based - viruses, worms, and other devices designed to disrupt Internet service or damage computers.

These objects' creators are somewhat unique in that there is apparently no economic motive for their actions. They are vandals, pure and simple, and their vandalism is enormously costly to the world economy. It has been estimated that viruses cost the U.S. economy several billion dollars a year (Violino 1996).

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