Semantics and new terms for data theft

Continuing the discussion from Creator of Reddit’s celebrity nude-sharing section upset at invasion of his privacy:

The term “data theft” has been misused and had its meaning watered down, 'tis true. This is why I would like to introduce a new term: data burglary. As a more specific form of theft, the term reflects that a private space had to be intruded upon to gain the files. It is morally equivalent to a burglar braking in to the strongbox in your bedroom closet and using a camera to take photos of all the papers you have in there. He may be able to do it and not leave evidence of the crime at the scene, but he does have the copied data.

So my proposal, instead of talking about theft. we could now talk about the different sorts of unwanted spread of data as “data burglary”, “data wiretapping” and “bootlegging”.

What sayeth the Hivemind?

There is logic to your reasoning. Insofar as an intrusion on a personal space (i.e. the home) is what defines burglary, the same term should be used to indicate the difference, say, between taking a USB key full of data and hacking someone’s phone to get pics. More than that though, there are additional layers of criminality; the sharing of those data is equivalent to “fencing” stolen property, and posting it could be considered, depending on the circumstances, slander, extortion or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Not all of those last ones are “criminal” under US law, though they might be in other jurisdictions. And maybe they should be in the US as well. None of these are really new ideas, but it’s worth revisiting them in light of the ever changing landscape of digital crimes.

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