Electronic Access Interference

Texas Criminal Law

The 85th Texas Legislature created a new law in 2017 called Electronic Access Interference, which makes it illegal in Texas to suspend access to a computer or network without a legitimate business purpose.

The Electronic Access Interference offense is codified in Title 7, “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 33, “Computer Crimes,” in the Texas Penal Code.

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Learn more information about the Electronic Access Interference offense below.

What is the current Texas law about Electronic Access Interference?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Electronic Access Interference in Penal Code Section §33.022 as follows:[1]

(a) A person, other than a network provider or online service provider acting for a legitimate business purpose, commits an offense if the person intentionally interrupts or suspends access to a computer system or computer network without the effective consent of the owner.

This law was created by the 85th Texas Legislature[2] and was codified at Section 33.022 in the Texas Penal Code.

Effective September 1, 2017,[3] the new law was a response to the growing cybersecurity threat that hackers pose to people and institutions with DDOS attacks, worms and other malware and ransomware. The Electronic Access Interference law was one of three laws created by in same bill in the 85th Legislature in 2017, with the others being Electronic Data Tampering and Unlawful Decryption.

How can I be charged with Electronic Access Interference?

You can be charged with Electronic Access Interference if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of either 33.022(a) as described in the section above have been met

What is the penalty for an Electronic Access Interference conviction?

The law will be penalized as a third degree felony,[4] punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §33.022^2. House Bill 9^3. House Bill 9 at Section 5-6:

SECTION 5. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.

SECTION 6. This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

^4. Penal Code Section 33.022(b), as created by House Bill 9, Section 3, effective September 1, 2017

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