South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Entering New, False Data into Computer System not Hacking
Description

Appeals court upheld the conviction of a state employee who sold state ID cards to persons who should not have received them. However, entering false information about these persons into the state computer system did not constitute hacking, which is modifying existing information.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

Official Misconduct; False Identification; Modifying Intellectual Property; Hacking

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Garcia worked for the State of Florida at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. She was caught in a sting operation when she provided a state identification card to a person without proper documentation in exchange for a bribe of $300. She was convicted of official misconduct for unlawful issuance of an identification card and of modifying intellectual property by having false information entered into the state computer system. She appealed, claiming double jeopardy.

Decision

Affirmed in part; reversed in part. Convictions for unlawful issuance of an identification card and for unlawfully supplying an identification card required different elements. Hence, conviction for both offenses did not result in double jeopardy and the convictions stand. These acts constituted official misconduct under Florida law. State law also prohibits modifying intellectual property, which can mean "hacking" a computer system by altering information that exists in a computer. When Garcia asked another employee to enter false information into the Department's computer system as part of issuing false identification cards, she caused new data to be entered; there was no modification of existing data, so no hacking or modification of intellectual property occurred.

Citation

Garcia v. State, ---So.2d--- (2006 WL 2270347, Ct. App., Fla., 2006)

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