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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Politician's Arrest Shows Danger of Computer Hacking

The new mayor of West New York, NJ, Dr. Felix Roque, and his son were arrested by the FBI this morning on charges of computer hacking and gaining unauthorized access to computers in order to damage them.  It is alleged that the Roques committed these activities (alleged cybercrimes) in order to intimidate and silence political opponents.  The elder Roque was elected West New York mayor in 2011 and quickly became subject to a recall.

Another interesting followup story, alleging Roque would "not have a problem serving time in jail," is sure to provoke heated reactions within the small Hudson County town and the interesting world of Hudson County politics.

The charges illustrate the dangers of technology.  There is political competitiveness and mischief.  However, our dependence on computers and files have made us dependent in turn on their security (through passwords, encryption and other technology) to safeguard otherwise confidential or personal information.  We have gained a false sense of security in the privacy of our information.  Hence, the danger of activities which threaten to breach such security.  These activities, if proven as crimes, will illustrate the risks that such people pose to our privacy.  And, as always, computer technology can be misused and such misuse can have unintended and tragic consequences (see the case of Dharun Ravi and Tyler Clementi).

Eric Dixon is an investigative attorney who is licensed to practice in both New York and New Jersey.

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