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Activity on peer-to-peer systems may be a federal crime

As we all become more tech savvy and many of us, especially younger people, learn how to do new and different things online, it's important to be aware that some of these activities may be illegal. While you may think that no one knows what you're doing on the privacy of your computer, law enforcement officials have become increasingly adept at monitoring online activity.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example, notes that illegal activity sometimes takes place on Peer-to-Peer networks. These networks help users share files by linking their computers with those of other users. Among the most common crimes committed using P2P networks are:

-- Hacking: If someone's P2P software hasn't been installed properly, that person's information may be available for others to see and use.

-- Child Obscenity and Exploitation: Distributing or receiving child pornography via the Internet can have severe legal consequences. In some cases, it happens unintentionally when people open files containing this material without knowing what it is. Sometimes it is deliberately mislabeled so that other users, including children, will open it.

-- Copyright Infringement: This includes distributing games, software, music and movies that are copyrighted. It is considered intellectual property theft, and is a federal offense.

It's easy to see how someone could innocently run afoul of the law without realizing it until it's too late. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies don't know what your intentions are. They simply see the activity and take action against those involved.

Regardless of the situation, if you or a loved one are charged with an Internet crime, it's essential to take the charges seriously because you can be assured that law enforcement and prosecutors do. Legal guidance from a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney experienced in handling this type of case is essential.

Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Risks of Peer-to-Peer Systems," accessed Nov. 04, 2015

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