How to? A Course on Computer Crime and Government Surveillance

1024px-EAS_Hall_SIT-300x200Starting this month, I have been teaching an innovative new class about computer crime and high-tech government surveillance at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. The course covers legal developments over the last two decades that have shaped how the government investigates computer crimes, such as computer hacking and the distribution of child pornography, as well as conventional crimes like drug trafficking and fraud that have become more efficient by using new information technologies. The course syllabus can be found here.

The topics we will cover come directly from our hands-on work for clients at the Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma over the past couple of years. They include:

  • border agents’ authority to search computer devices at the United States border without a search warrant or suspicion,
  • statutory and constitutional limits on the government’s authority to criminally prosecute computer hacking and computer trespass,
  • the government’s ability to obtain sensitive information (such as location data) from technology companies with or without a search warrant,
  • government relationships with technology companies — through conscription or incentives — to investigate the criminal activities of end-users,
  • the legality of new investigative techniques used by the government to investigate users of Dark Net websites that facilitate the distribution of drugs, child pornography, or guns,
  • limits on the government’s authority to compel technology companies to alter the ordinary and secure functioning of their products to facilitate government investigations, and
  • police or investigators’ ability to compel people to unlock or provide passwords to their electronic devices.

Our office has litigated nearly all of these issues in both federal and state courts on behalf of those accused of using information technology to facilitate crimes. If you are being investigated for a crime involving computers, or your case involves evidence collected by means of high-tech government surveillance, contact our office to review of your case.

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