Federal Laws on Tech That All Businesses Should Know

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If we’re not careful, it would be far too easy to be on the wrong side of the law. Yes, we know the basic laws that prohibit the most heinous crimes. But there are far more laws that we could technically break if we’re not aware of the mistakes that we’re making. This problem is most applicable to working for or running a business. And it’s especially so now with our growing reliance on tech.

Truth be told, there are far more laws than we know about how we use tech in our personal and professional lives. But, as professionals working in or running a private company, it’s crucial to be aware of such tech laws. It’s because, if we’re not careful, we might break a law that we don’t even know about. We might be called in court, pay a huge fine, or even face jail time.

The key to avoiding such dire consequences is to know what the laws are.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

As one of the earliest laws on cybersecurity, the Computer and Fraud and Abuse Act or the CFAA was enacted in 1986. Since then, it’s been subjected to many revisions. But the law’s aim is simple: to protect private information. In fact, this is the first federal law that prohibits hacking. The CFAA clarifies that accessing a computer or a private cloud file server without proper authorization is against the law. Anyone caught breaking this law may be sentenced to up to five years in prison. If they’re caught illegally accessing the information on national security matters, the prison sentence is up to ten years.

This federal law is not perfect, though. Some experts have found that it’s too restricting. They also find the lack of a clear definition of “computer activity” and “without authorization” problematic. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, for example, is advocating for the reformation of the CFAA.

In business, though, it’s important to know that this act protects our private files and records. So if we ever catch a breach in our cybersecurity, our attorneys can bring this law up in court.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

To any of us who watched Silicon Valley on HBO, the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act or the COPPA sounds familiar. It’s the law that Dinesh Chugtai (played by Kumail Nanjiani) unknowingly breaks when he developed a mobile app that enhanced video calls around the world. He neglected to set up a restriction for mobile app users 13 years old and below. But this simple neglect led to millions of dollars in fines.

The COPPA is a federal law that was first enacted in 1998. The Federal Trade Commission is managing it. It states that websites must require parental consent for users who are, as mentioned, 13 years old and below. This helps protect children’s privacy and upholds responsible usage of the internet.

In business, it’s important to know this law because we might end up like Dinesh in Silicon Valley. We might think that we’re shaking the tech world with our latest digital technology innovation. But that could all come crashing down if we just forget to set up a restriction for users who are 13 years old and below.

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Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act or the CISA was enacted back in 2015. This law aims to make cybersecurity in public and private sectors of the United States more robust and effective. To do that, private companies, especially those in the tech and manufacturing industries, must relay any information concerning cybersecurity to the federal government. This information on the best cybersecurity practices would also be disseminated to the state and local governments to make their own cybersecurity stronger.

In business, it’s crucial always to be updated on this because it could help us make our company’s cybersecurity stronger. And if we’re in the tech or manufacturing industries, we’re at the forefront of protecting private information. So it’s our responsibility to educate those in the public and private sectors.

The mere act of understanding the various federal laws on tech would go a long way for us in business. It would help us protect our private information, such as finances and employee records. It would protect us from any possible prison time or fines that could bankrupt us. And it’s our way of staying informed on the latest trends and best practices when it comes to cybersecurity.

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