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General Aspects of the Special Law against Computer Crimes in Venezuela

The Special Law Against Computer Crimes was published in Official Gazette No. 37.313, on October 30, 2001, however, said legal instrument established in its Article 32, a period of Vacatio legis Therefore, in spite of having been previously published in the official gazette, the legal instrument officially came into effect on November 30, 2001.

The purpose of this legal instrument is to provide comprehensive protection of the systems that use information technologies, as well as the prevention and punishment of crimes committed against such systems or any of their components, or crimes committed through the use of such technologies. Regarding the spatial application of the law, the legislator considered in article 3, to establish the extraterritorial application of this law, for crimes committed outside the territory as long as the effects of the punishable act have been produced.

Special Law against Computer Crimes

In the legal resource, information technology is defined as "a branch of technology dedicated to the study, application and processing of data, which involves obtaining, creating, storing, managing, modifying, handling, moving, controlling, displaying, transmitting or receiving information automatically, as well as the development and use of hardware, firmware and software.".

This law protects each of the activities mentioned in the preceding paragraph.However, the instrument penalizes bad practices associated with the use of information technologies and computer systems.

The twenty-one criminal offenses established in the law are classified in five categories:

  1. crimes against systems that use information technology,
  2. crimes against property,
  3. crimes against the privacy of persons and communications,
  4. crimes against children and adolescents, and
  5. crimes against the economic order.

Most relevant offenses

Undue access. The offense established in Article 6, punishes any person who without due authorization accesses or uses a system that uses information technologies, without due authorization. This conduct is punishable with imprisonment from one to five years and a fine according to the terms of the law.

Sabotage or damage to systems. The crime established in Article 7 penalizes anyone who intentionally destroys, damages, modifies or alters the operation of a system that uses information technology or any of its components, the penalty is imprisonment of four to eight years and a corresponding fine. If the crime described is committed due to imprudence, negligence, inexperience or nonobservance of the established rules, Article 8 establishes an attenuation of the penalty.

Possession of equipment or provision of sabotage services. Article 10 of the Law establishes that any person who imports, manufactures, distributes, sells or uses equipment, devices or programs with the purpose of using them to violate or eliminate safety of any system that uses information technology, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to six years and a corresponding fine.

Computer espionage. Article 11 states that any person who improperly obtains, discloses or disseminates data or information contained in a system that uses information technology shall be punished with imprisonment of three to six years and a fine.

Other offenses punishable by law and no less important are:

Falsification of Documents, Computer Theft, Computer Fraud, improper obtaining of goods and services, fraudulent handling of smart cards or analogous instruments, appropriation of smart cards or analogous instruments, improper provision of goods or services, possession of equipment for counterfeiting. Violation of privacy of personal data or information, violation of privacy of communications, improper disclosure of personal data or information, dissemination or exhibition of pornographic material, pornographic exhibition of children or adolescents, appropriation of intellectual property, misleading offer.

Finally, it should be noted that in Articles 27 and 28 of the lawArticle 29 establishes cases in which the penalties for computer crimes mentioned above may be increased when it is determined that, in addition to the conducts mentioned in each crime, the agent improperly obtained the necessary passwords to access the system or they are obtained through the abuse of the privileged position of the position due to the exercise or function. Likewise, Article 29 establishes accessory penalties to the main ones, such as confiscation of equipment, community work, disqualification for up to three years from public employment.

Sources consulted