The Volokh Conspiracy

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What's covered in a course on computer crime law?


Much of my academic work for the past 15 years has been to help create and advance the study of the field I call computer crime law. To that end, I have written a casebook on that topic and I teach a course on it every academic year. Readers might be interested to know what topics I cover in the course, so I thought I would post two documents that can help answer that. First, my publisher has posted the table of contents for the casebook. Second, I have posted the syllabus for the course I am teaching this spring.

I have reprinted below the topics I cover in the course, as taken from the syllabus, for each of the 37 class dates on which we cover new material. The first 17 classes are about substantive computer crime law (what is a crime involving computers?); the next 15 classes are about procedural computer crime law (collecting digital evidence); and the last five classes are about jurisdictional issues that arise both in substantive and procedural law.

1. Introduction to Computer Misuse
2. The Property-Based Approach to Computer Misuse, and an Introduction to 18 U.S.C. 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
3. The Meaning of Unauthorized Access: What is "Access," and What is "Authorization"?
4. More on the Meaning of "Authorization": Contract and Norms-Based Approaches to Authorization
5. Access to Obtain Information and the Crime of Computer Fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2) and (a)(4)
6. The Computer Damage Statute, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(5)
7. More on 1030(a)(5), and Property Crimes to Protect Economic Interests Online
8. The Economic Espionage Act and Identity Theft
9. Criminal Copyright Law
10. More on Criminal Copyright, and an Introduction to Online Threats and Harassment
11. Online Threats, Harassment, and "Revenge Porn" Laws
12. Internet Gambling
13. Internet Obscenity
14. Child Pornography Offenses
15. "Virtual" Child Pornography and First Amendment Limits
16. Traveler Cases and Online Entrapment
17. Sentencing Computer Crimes under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and their Application to Child Pornography Offenses
18. Sentencing Computer Misuse Offenses, and an Introduction to the Fourth Amendment
19. Fourth Amendment "Searches" and "Seizures" of Computers
20. Exigent Circumstances and Scope of Consent for Computer Search and Seizure
21. Third Party Consent Searches of Computers and Searches Incident to Arrest
22. Computer Border Searches and Government Workplace Searches
23. Warrant Searches: Probable Cause and Particularity for Digital Evidence
24. Executing Computer Warrants and The Scope of Plain View for Computer Searches
25. Ex Ante Restrictions on Warrants, the Fifth Amendment, and the All Writs Act
26. Fourth Amendment in a Network Environment, Part I: Non-Content Information
27. Fourth Amendment in a Network Environment, Part II: Contents
28. Introduction to the Wiretap Act
29. The Consent Exception and the Provider Exception
30. The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 and the Pen Register Statute
31. The Stored Communications Act, Part I
32. The Stored Communications Act, Part II
33. Federalism and Computer Crime Law: The Scope of Federal Authority
34. Federalism and Computer Crime Law, Part II: The Scope of State Authority
35. Computer Crimes Beyond the United States Border
36. The Microsoft Case and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties
37. National Security Investigations