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RHODE ISLAND GENERAL LAWS
TITLE 11. CRIMINAL OFFENSES
CHAPTER 52. COMPUTER CRIME
(as amended in 2001)

§ 11-52-1. Definitions. -- As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Access" means to approach, instruct, communicate with, store data in, enter data in, retrieve data from, or otherwise make use of any resources of, a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (2) "Computer" means an electronic, magnetic, optical, hydraulic or organic device or group of devices which, pursuant to a computer program, to human instruction, or to permanent instructions contained in the device or group of devices, can automatically perform computer operations with or on computer data and can communicate the results to another computer or to a person. The term "computer" includes any connected or directly related device, equipment, or facility which enables the computer to store, retrieve or communicate computer programs, computer data or the results of computer operations to or from a person, another computer or another device.

    (3) "Computer data" means any representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts, or instructions which is being prepared or has been prepared and is intended to be processed, is being processed, or has been processed in a computer or computer network. "Computer data" may be in any form, whether readable only by a computer or only by a human or by either, including, but not limited to, computer printouts, magnetic storage media, punched cards, or stored internally in the memory of the computer.

    (4) "Computer network" means a set of related, remotely connected devices and any communications facilities including more than one computer with the capability to transmit data among them through the communications facilities.

    (5) "Computer operation" means arithmetic, logical, monitoring, storage or retrieval functions and any combination thereof, and includes, but is not limited to, communication with, storage of data to, or retrieval of data from any device or human hand manipulation of electronic or magnetic impulses. A "computer operation" for a particular computer may also be any function for which that computer was generally designed.

    (6) "Computer program" means a series of instructions or statements or related data that, in actual or modified form, is capable of causing a computer or a computer system to perform specified functions in a form acceptable to a computer, which permits the functioning of a computer system in a manner designed to provide appropriate products from such computer systems.

    (7) "Computer services" includes computer time or services, data processing services, Internet service providers' networks and facilities located in the state or information or data stored in connection therewith.

    (8) "Computer software" means a set of computer programs, procedures, and associated documentation concerned with the operation of a computer, computer program or computer network.

    (9) "Computer system" means a set of related, connected or unconnected, computer equipment, devices, and software.

    (10) "Data" means any representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts, or instructions which are being prepared or have been prepared and are intended to be entered, processed, or stored, are being entered, processed, or stored or have been entered, processed, or stored in a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (11) "Electronic mail service provider" means any business or organization qualified to do business in the State of Rhode Island that provides registered users the ability to send or receive electronic mail through equipment located in this state and that is an intermediary in sending or receiving electronic mail.

    (12) "Financial instrument" includes, but is not limited to, any check, draft, warrant, money order, note, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, bill of exchange, credit or debit card transaction authorization mechanism, marketable security, or any computerized representation thereof.

    (13) "Owner" means an owner or lessee of a computer or a computer network or an owner, lessee, or licensee of computer data, computer programs, or computer software.

    (14) "Person" shall include any individual, partnership, association, corporation or joint venture.

    (15) "Property" includes, but is not limited to:

    (i) Real property;

    (ii) Computers and computer networks;

    (iii) Financial instruments, computer data, computer programs, computer software and all other personal property regardless of whether they are:

    (A) Tangible or intangible;

    (B) In a format readable by humans or by a computer;

    (C) In transit between computers or within a computer network or between any devices which comprise a computer; or

    (D) Located on any paper or in any device on which it is stored by a computer or by a human; and

    (E) Computer services.

    (iv) A person "uses" a computer or computer network when he or she:

    (A) Attempts to cause or causes a computer or computer network to perform or to stop performing computer operations;

    (B) Attempts to cause or causes the withholding or denial of the use of a computer, computer network, computer program, computer data or computer software to another user; or

    (C) Attempts to cause or causes another person to put false information into a computer.

    (v) A person is "without authority" when

    (A) he or she has no right or permission of the owner to use a computer, or, he uses a computer in a manner exceeding such right or permission; or

    (B) he uses an Internet service e-mail system offered by a Rhode-Island - based Internet service provider in contravention of the authority granted by or in violation of the policies set by the Internet service provider.

    (vi) Transmission of electronic mail from an organization to its members shall not be deemed to be unsolicited bulk electronic mail.

    (16) "Services" includes, but is not limited to, computer time, data processing, and storage functions.

    (17) "Source document" means an original document or record which forms the basis of every electronic entry put into a computer, computer system, or computer network.

§ 11-52-2. Access to computer for fraudulent purposes. -- Whoever directly or indirectly accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network for the purpose of : (1) devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud; (2) obtaining money, property, or services by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises; or (3) damaging, destroying, altering, deleting, or removing any program or data contained therein in connection with any scheme or artifice to defraud shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 11-52-5.

§ 11-52-3. Intentional access, alteration, damage, or destruction. -- Whoever, intentionally and without authorization, directly or indirectly, accesses, alters, damages, or destroys any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data contained in a computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 11-52-5.

§ 11-52-4. Computer theft. -- Whoever, intentionally and without claim of right, and with intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession, takes, transfers, conceals or retains possession of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data contained in a computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network with a value in excess of five hundred dollars ($500) shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 11-52-5. If the value is five hundred dollars ($500) or less, then the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.

§ 11-52-4.1. Computer trespass. -- (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to use a computer or computer network without authority and with the intent to:

    (1) Temporarily or permanently remove, halt, or otherwise disable any computer data, computer programs, or computer software from a computer or computer network; or

    (2) Cause a computer to malfunction regardless of how long the malfunction persists; or

    (3) Alter or erase any computer data, computer programs, or computer software; or

    (4) Effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds; or

    (5) Cause physical injury to the property of another; or

    (6) Make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy, in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs, or computer software residing in, communicated by, or produced by a computer or computer network; or

    (7) Forge e-mail header information or other Internet routine information for the purpose of sending unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the facilities of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers; or

    (8) To sell, give or otherwise distribute or possess with the intent to sell, give or distribute software which is designed to facilitate or enable the forgery of electronic mail header information or other Internet routing information for the purpose of sending unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the facilities of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers.

    (b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with or prohibit terms or conditions in a contract or license related to computers, computer data, computer networks, computer operations, computer programs, computer services, or computer software or to create any liability by reason of terms or conditions adopted by, or technical measures implemented by, a Rhode Island - based electronic mail service provider to prevent the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail in violation of this act.

§ 11-52-4.2. Cyberstalking prohibited

    (a) Whoever transmits any communication by computer to any person or causes any person to be contacted for the sole purpose of harassing that person or his or her family is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. For the purpose of this section, "harasses" means following a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, or bothers the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury. "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct."

    (b) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be deemed a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.

§ 11-52-4.3. Violation of restraining order

    (a) Whenever there is a restraining order or injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining one person from harassing another person, and the person so enjoined is convicted of the crime as set forth in section 11-52-4.2 for actions against the person protected by the court order or injunction, he or she shall be guilty of a felony which shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, or by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.

    (b) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.

§ 11-52-5. Penalties. -- (a) Any person who is convicted of an offense which is classified as a felony under this chapter shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or imprisoned for not more than five (5) years, or both.

    (b) Any person who is convicted of an offense which is classified as a misdemeanor under this chapter shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500) or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

§ 11-52-6. Civil action. -- (a) Any person injured as a result of a violation of this chapter may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory damages, punitive damages, court costs, and such other relief as the court deems appropriate, including reasonable attorneys' fees.

    (b) If the injury arises from the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail, the injured person, other than an electronic mail service provider, may also recover attorney's fees and costs and may elect, in lieu of actual damages, to recover the lesser of five hundred dollars ($500) for each and every unsolicited bulk electronic mail message transmitted in violation of this chapter up to a maximum of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) per day. The injured person shall not have a cause of action against the electronic mail service provider which merely transmits the unsolicited bulk electronic mail over its computer network.

    (c) If the injury arises from the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail, an injured electronic mail service provider may also recover attorneys fees and costs, and may elect, in lieu of actual damages, to recover the greater of five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each and every unsolicited bulk electronic mail message transmitted in violation of this chapter up to a maximum of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) per day.

    (d) At the request of any party to an action brought pursuant to this section, the court may, in its discretion, conduct all legal proceedings in such a way as to protect the secrecy and security of the computer, computer network, computer data, computer program and computer software involved in order to prevent possible recurrence of the same or a similar act by another person and to protect any trade secrets of any party.

    (e) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit any person's right to pursue any additional civil remedy otherwise allowed by law.

§ 11-52-7. Use of false information. -- (a) Whoever intentionally or knowingly makes a transmission of false data for the purpose of submitting a claim for payment, or makes, presents, or uses or causes to be made, presented, or used any data for the purpose of submitting a claim for payment with knowledge of its falsity and with knowledge that it will be used for such claim for payment, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 11-52-5.

    (b) Whoever intentionally or knowingly (1) makes a transmission of false data or (2) makes, presents or uses or causes to be made, presented or used any data for any other purpose with knowledge of its falsity shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 11-52-5.

§ 11-52-8. Tampering with computer source documents. -- (a) Whoever intentionally or knowingly conceals, destroys, or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy, or alter any computer source document used for a computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network, when the computer source document is required to be kept by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to the provisions of § 11-52-5.

    (b) Whoever intentionally or knowingly conceals, destroys, or alters or intentionally, knowingly conceals, destroys, or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy, or alter any computer source document used for a computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network, when the computer source document is required to be kept by law, with the intent to obstruct an official investigation by any state agency authorized by law to conduct any civil or criminal investigation, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to the provisions of § 11-52-5.


TITLE 6. COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS
CHAPTER 47. INTERNET ACCESS AND ADVERTISING BY FACSIMILE
(added in 1999)

§ 6-47-1. Advertising by fax. -- (a) No person or entity conducting business in the state of Rhode Island shall facsimile (fax) or cause to be faxed, documents consisting of unsolicited advertising material for the lease, sale, rental, gift offer, or other disposition of any realty, goods, services, or extension of credit unless:

    (1) In the case of a fax, that person or entity must establish a toll-free telephone number that a recipient of the unsolicited faxed documents may call to notify the sender not to fax the recipient any further unsolicited documents.

    (2) In the case of faxed material, the statement shall be in at least nine-point type. The statement shall be the first text in the body of the message and shall be of the same size as the majority of the text of the message.

    (b) Upon notification by a recipient of his or her request not to receive any further unsolicited fax, no person or entity conducting business in the state of Rhode Island shall fax or cause to be faxed any unsolicited documents to that recipient.

    (c) As used in this chapter, "unsolicited fax" means any document or documents consisting of advertising material for the lease, sale, rental, gift offer, or other disposition of any realty, goods, services, or extension of credit that meet both of the following requirements:

    (1) The documents are addressed to a recipient with whom the initiator does not have an existing business or personal relationship.

    (2) The documents are not sent at the request of, or with the express consent of, the recipient.

    (d) As used in this chapter, "fax" or "caused to be faxed" does not include or refer to the transmission of any documents by a telecommunications utility or Internet service provider to the extent that the telecommunications utility or Internet service provider merely carries that transmission over its network.

§ 6-47-2. Unsolicited electronic mail. -- (a) No person or entity may initiate the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message from a computer located in Rhode Island or to an electronic mail address that the sender knows, or has reason to know, is held by a Rhode Island resident unless that person or entity establishes a toll-free telephone number or valid sender operated return e-mail address that the recipient of the unsolicited documents may call or e-mail to notify the sender not to e-mail any further unsolicited documents.

    (b) All unsolicited commercial electronic messages subject to this section shall include a statement informing the recipient of the toll-free telephone number that the recipient may call, or a valid return address to which the recipient may write or e-mail, as the case may be, notifying the sender not to e-mail the recipient any further unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages to the e-mail address or addresses specified by the recipient.

    (c) Upon notification by a recipient of his or her request not to receive any further unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages, no person or entity subject to subsection (a) shall e-mail or cause to be e-mailed any unsolicited documents to that recipient.

    (d) No person or entity may initiate the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message from a computer located in Rhode Island or to an electronic mail address that the sender knows, or has reason to know, is held by a Rhode Island resident that fraudulently uses a third party's internet domain name without permission of the third party, or otherwise fraudulently misrepresents any information in identifying the point of origin or the transmission path of a commercial electronic mail message.

    (e) As used in this section, "commercial electronic messages" means any e-mailed document or documents consisting of commercial advertising material, the principal purpose of which is to promote the for-profit sale or lease of goods or services to the recipient and which meet both of the following requirements:

    (1) The documents are addressed to a recipient with whom the initiator does not have an existing business or personal relationship.

    (2) The documents are not sent at the request of, or with the express consent of, the recipient.

    (f) As used in this section, "e-mail" or "caused to be e-mailed" does not include or refer to the transmission of any documents by a telecommunications utility or Internet service provider to the extent that the telecommunications utility or Internet service provider merely carries that transmission over its network.

    (g) For purposes of this section, a person or entity has reason to know that the intended recipient of a commercial electronic mail message is a Rhode Island resident if the recipient has requested of the sender not to receive any further unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

    (h) Any person or entity who violates the provisions of this chapter shall be liable for damages to the recipient of an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100) for each such violation. In addition, the recipient may recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

§ 6-47-3. Severability. -- If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable.

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