When should the use of a computer be considered a felony - a serious crime punishable by a year or more in prison?  When should it be considered a misdemeanor -- a less serious offense punishable by a fine or a jail term of less than a year?  When should it be considered a matter of ethics -- a moral question of right and wrong?

Here are reports of three real-life cases of computer misuse.  As you read each one, see if you think it should be considered a felony, a misdemeanor, or an unethical use of the computer?

Case Number 1:  A computer operator at a large bank fixes the computer so it switches part of other people's deposits into his account.  In less than two weeks, his account grows to more than ten million dollars.

Case Number 2:  Several junior high school students "break into" the computer system of a large company.  (That means they electronically gain access to the information stored in the computer.)  They don't steal any money or information.  They do destroy certain records and documents and they read information that is private.

Case Number 3:  A college student in New York uses a computer to "call up" the college's mainframe computer.  He finds his record and gives himself excellent grades.  That semester, he makes the honor roll.

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Last updated  2008/09/28 02:26:40 CDTHits  2521