Written by attorney Max Eldon Harger

Help! Someone Hacked my Facebook/Twitter/Email/Computer/Network!

Can you sue a person or business for hacking your Facebook, Twitter, Email, Computer, Home Network and Internet Service Accounts?

Let’s say you recently learned that someone hacked your email account and was sending out pornography or “male enhancement" vitamin ads from your email address. You find yourself terribly embarrassed, so what are my legal options?

Well, as is commonly the case regarding “account hacking," here the offending individual or company’s actions may (and likely do) give rise to a criminal Complaint for a crime generally regarded as “computer trespass". In Texas, your Complaint will allege a “breach of computer security" under Title 7, Chapter 33 of the Texas Penal Code. You can speak with your local law enforcement authorities for assistance with the filing of such a complaint.

Secondly, and more to the point, you may also have Civil remedies available to you sufficient to bring suit.

As a general matter, your state may recognize this behavior as a Trespass, Harassment, Infliction of Emotional Distress, Conversion (Theft) or Invasion of Privacy action depending on your jurisdiction and the hacker’s use/destruction of your data. Additionally, have claims arising from the potential defendant having cast you as a purveyor of pornography – in the case that you can prove damage to your reputation, you may be able to assert a claim for “defamation," and to the extent that this has offended you personally you may raise a “false light" claim.

However, apart from any trouble you’ll have with identifying any particular hacker (admittedly, in some cases ID can be obvious) part of proving a Civil action is establishing damages and assigning a money value to your troubles such that the court can make you whole. It’s not terribly difficult to see how this would be problematic (at least to the point where it was worth your while to pursue it) absent particularly egregious behavior or clear monetary loss.

So, if you’re just looking to put an end to the offending behavior, a criminal complaint may be the way to go. Good luck!

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