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Is It Illegal to Misrepresent Yourself Online?

There are times that it is illegal to misrepresent yourself online, and doing so will face you hefty fines, and possibly even prison time. Though there was an era when merely opting into an app by accepting their terms of service was used as a way to press criminal charges, those days are waning. But going long and strong are the intent cases -- the cases in which you misrepresent yourself with the intent of committing a criminal act, by you or someone else. In those cases, charges may be successfully brought.

Is It Illegal to Post Bomb-Making Instructions Online?

Though there is a federal law against distributing bomb-making instructions, a little more has to go into the effort before it is considered illegal. It's a balancing act between free speech and national security. But beware, if you are found guilty, the penalty is high.

When Should You Report a Harassing Text to Police?

Harassment has left the schoolyard and taken to the cell waves in the form of texts. According to a poll in Owlcation, 96 percent of the nearly 23,000 voters in the poll have been text messaged harassed. Sometimes these messages are annoying, and sometimes they are far more harmful. When should you report a harassing text to police? The answer really depends on you and the nature of the texts.

Underground Drug Trafficker 'OxyMonster' Sentenced to 20 Years

Gone are the days you went down a dark alley and exchanged $10 for a "dime bag" of weed. Drug dealing has gone international, using the dark web and bitcoin, and they are selling much more than marijuana.

Gal Vallerius, a French international drug dealer, was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his elaborate online drug trafficking scheme. He pleaded guilty in June when arrested upon entering the US en route to Texas for a world beard-growing competition. Turns out he is a professional beard grower as well as an international drug trafficker. Makes you wonder if he's ever smuggled drugs, or an exotic pet, in that beard.

In 2012, a then-15-year-old Jane Doe was "friended" on Facebook by a user who appeared to know several of her friends in real life. The man messaged her through Facebook, and offered to console her after an argument with her mother. But that user's online identity turned out to be false, and after picking up Jane Doe in his car, he beat her, raped her, and posted illicit photos taken during the incident to Backpage.com.

The woman is now suing Facebook, claiming the site failed to properly vet the assailant's identity or adequately warn her that sex traffickers were operating on the social media network.

Should You Report Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a terrifying reality for today's youth, affecting them in ways that prior generations could never have imagined. Gone are the days when the end of the school day meant the end of the school bully. Today's cyberbullying goes on well into the midnight hours given the ubiquity of the internet, affecting children's self-esteem, safety, schoolwork, and sleep patterns. 

How will future generations be kept safe from this sometimes deadly phenomena? Reporting and remedial measures may help.

The fate of 3D-printed guns remains a tug-of-war between federal judges, the Department of Defense, gun spec publishers, and the bottomless well of the internet. After a July settlement with the State Department allowed gun company Defense Distributed to re-publish designs for its "Liberator" 3D-printed handgun, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik blocked publication of those plans based on the "likelihood of potential irreparable harm."

Lasnik extended that injunction this week, despite reports the files had already been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times from various internet sources. That latest injunction apparently failed to deter Defense Distributed, who announced it will make the plans available to anyone who wants them, at any price, despite the court order.

Threatening Police in Rap Song Not Protected Speech

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the lower court's finding of witness intimidation and terrorists threats when they rejected rapper Jamal Knox's free speech claim in a music video entitled "F--- the Police." In that video, Knox, using the name Mayhem Mal, threatens to kill the two police officers and an informant that led to his conviction on a 2012 drug charge.

As soon as there was an internet, there was sex on the internet and crime on the internet. And while sex crime on the internet might not make intuitive sense at first -- Can you actually have any kind of sex on the internet, much less illegal sex? -- it turns out there are quite a few sexual activities that take place on the internet that are illegal under state or federal law.

Here's a roundup of the five most common types of internet sex crimes, and how you could get into trouble online.

For better or worse, we live on our phones. And our smartphones contain a whole lot of data we'd rather not share with most people, including (and maybe especially) the police. Phone companies recognize security is a selling feature, so keeping your data safe from prying eyes has been a priority of late.

Last fall, Apple released a new "cop button" feature for the iPhone. And this month, the latest update to the iPhone's operating system includes a way to block USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies to crack your passcode and encryption safeguards.