Long sentence for cybercrimes is justified

Lives can be ruined. It's time people understand that computer hacking is not a joke.

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The only thing unfortunate about a California judge's decision to sentence a cyberstalker to more than four years in prison is that his sentence isn't longer.

Cyberstalking and computer hacking -- invading people's privacy and creating problems for them -- is a very serious crime.

Sadly, a great many people don't see cyberstalking or any other computer-based crimes (that don't involve actual theft of property) as being particularly serious.

They see it as, well, fun and games. It's like some sort of cyber-practical joke to them.

That's the way a man sentenced to four years saw it before he got caught.

George Bronk's crime was to troll women's Facebook pages searching for clues that allowed him to take over their email accounts. Once he took over the email accounts, Bronk searched their folders for nude or semi-nude photographs or videos that had been previously sent to their husbands or boyfriends. He then sent those images to their entire contact lists -- family, friends and coworkers, prosectuors said. He apparently did this to at least 46 women in 17 states.

One of the victims was able to contact Bronk via email and asked why he'd sent the pictures to her contact lists. His answer: "Because it's funny."

Wow! It's incredible Bronk couldn't foresee all the pain his "funny" prank would cause.

"This case serves as a stark example of what occurs in so-called cyberspace. It has very real consequences," Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown said. "The intrusion of one's profile is no different than intruding one's home."

Bronk, 23, pleaded guilty in January to charges that included computer intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography. Brown sentenced him to four years in state prison for the charges related to the Facebook and email offenses, and added eight more months for charges related to child pornography.

Bronk's attorney said her client was immature, unemployed and bored, according to The Associated Press. Apparently he also might have a drinking problem.

This, however, is no excuse for his selfish and hurtful behavior. The harm he caused to his victims is every bit as serious as physical injuries.

The time Bronk will spend behind bars is justified.

And let's hope this prison sentence works to spread the word that cybercrimes such as these create real pain for victims and are far from a laughing matter.

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