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Chapter 27. Internet Law > Where the Harm Lies

Where the Harm Lies

Most citizens in the United States are law-abiding people. Although not all of them are voters, regular churchgoers, or even nice people. The vast majority do not murder, steal, loot, or even lie on a regular basis. But in one sense or another, all are lawbreakers. We all break a minor law once in a while. (It's almost impossible not to, given the sheer numbers of laws on the books, including the arcane ones.) We don't consider our actions criminal or question our moral integrity. One reason is that laws usually fall into one of two categories—those that prohibit or punish harmful actions to citizens (such as murder) and those that proscribe actions that cause little harm. Internet law generally falls into this latter category.

To kill a man unjustifiably by dropping a computer on him is harmful, illegal, and unacceptable by society's standards. To kill his reputation by publishing defamatory accusations on the Web is still illegal yet construed as less harmful.


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