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This question regarding legal complexity versus simplicity in modern law got me talking about the relatively simple structure of Jewish tort law. It also had me wondering:

What sort of categorization would Jewish law apply to computer/internet crimes?

Doxxing might be rechilut (tale-bearing) or hezek re'iyah (~ invasion of privacy), for instance, but what about hacking/hijacking a computer? No obvious act of kinyan (transfer of ownership) is performed even when the hacker takes control of ("p0wns") the system. Do we treat it as misappropriating someone else's property to do damage via botnet? Is there a penalty of double compensation for stolen information?

Yes, this is a serious question. I would love some sources...

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    I assume you mean besides for dina d'malchuta dina. – Scimonster Mar 19 '15 at 13:22
  • Why Hezek reiah? Are you taking away their hishtamshus on the computer? – Shoel U'Meishiv Mar 19 '15 at 13:32
  • @Mefaresh R' Asher Meir says that doxing is likely forbidden based on lo teleich rachil and possibly also hezek re-iyah. See judaism.stackexchange.com/a/52833/2 and the article linked there for the H"R argument. – Isaac Moses Mar 19 '15 at 13:47
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    I wonder if this question ought to be split up into separate questions about invading, damaging, and stealing, which are distinct hacking activities and, in the real world at least, distinct Halachic torts. – Isaac Moses Mar 19 '15 at 13:51
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    @IsaacKotlicky My point is that before you even try to fit them into rubrics, it might make sense to ask separately about digging into someone's system to read stuff, breaking or DoSing someone's system, stealing and copying someone's data, and stealing and deleting someone's data. – Isaac Moses Mar 19 '15 at 14:05
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Point number one, you are invading his privacy for which the cheirem of Rabbeinu Gershom would apparently apply. This article discusses similar modern inventions as far as this cheirem goes. http://www.torah.org/advanced/business-halacha/5757/vol2no17.html

Second, while it seems the damage done by hacking is not 'real' in the sense that no property was taken just bits and bytes of information being manipulated, in truth this is considered real damage halachicaly see Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpa siman 386.

Some of the cases there analogous to your explenation of hacking are burning someone's document which causes him a financial loss, or pushing (without lifting) his coin into the sea.

I hate to make a condensed mishmash of the long explenations of the Sma and Shach there, but to be brief any indirect action which could have theoretically been called Gramma and be pattur from tashlumin, will be called Garmi and chayav when the action was done with the express intention of damaging the other party, and it is a common action which necessitates this chiyuv tashlumin dirabanan.

There are of course opinions in the Rishonim that Garmi is chayav mideoraisa, I'm just mentioning these two gedolei achronim in their explenation of Shulchan Aruch as their opinions are usually considered halachicaly binding.

  • nice! I missed the grama/burning a shtar connection you pointed out. Very good point. I'm wondering if there are any modern poskim discussing the dinei mamanos aspect of this rather than the takana derabbeinu gershom... – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 19 '15 at 14:50
  • I'm awarding you the answer, but I was really hoping for something more modern explicitly addressing computer crimes... – Isaac Kotlicky Apr 26 '15 at 13:10

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