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Word Count: 773
Legislative attention to computer crimes grew dramatically in the early 1980s as computers became increasingly central to the conduct of business and politics Instances of hackers especially among young people accessing government computer files for sport were becoming alarmingly frequent A popular culture mythology developed founded on the ex ploits of what were regarded as rebel heroes who could single-handedly spy on and sabotage the vast machinations of the corporate and government establishment Their stories fed a growing culture of aspiring hackers and inspired the media to dramatize and some would say romanticize their adventures as typified by the movie War Games In 1981 no clear laws prevented anyone from accessing military computers or the White House switchboard During that year 24-year-old Ian Murphy known in hacking circles as Captain Zap and three cohorts underscored the need for much more clearly articulated legislation when they used a home computer and telephone lines to hack their way into electronic companies merchandise order files and government documents We were using White House switchboards to make calls to joke lines in Germany and snooping in classified military files Murphy explained We set up dummy corporations It was hilarious The band of hackers was finally shoehorned into laws as Murphy put it Indicted for receiving stolen property Murphy was fined 1000 and sentenced to 2 12 years probation The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 was the culmination of several years of research and discussion among legislators One reason for the lengthy preparation and perhaps the biggest obstacle to establishing the law was the difficulty of collecting a substantial body of testimony from computer crime victims Large corporations were especially reluctant to admit they had been victimized because they were afraid to have their vulnerability publicized The chief sponsors of the act Representative William J Hughes D-NJ and Senators Paul Laxalt R-Nev and Paul Tribble R-Va expected computer crime victims to be much more forthcoming
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