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Deleting browser history could get you into trouble

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mostly pertains to corporate financial reporting, but Section 802 of the law imposes severe penalties for "destroying, mutilating, concealing, falsifying records, documents, or tangible objects".

twitter-logo ANI   Washington     Last Updated: June 8, 2015  | 10:54 IST
You may be booked for deleting your browser history!
Picture for representation purpose only. Source: Reuters

Did you know that you could be booked by law enforcement authorities for erasing your browser history?

A law crafted by former US Congressmen Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Michael Oxley (R-OH) in early 2001, aimed at compelling corporations to comply with federal prosecutors during probes, has such a broad interpretation that anyone could be charged for deleting data at any point of time.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mostly pertains to corporate financial reporting, but Section 802 of the law imposes severe penalties for "destroying, mutilating, concealing, falsifying records, documents, or tangible objects" with the intention of impeding a federal probe, reported The Verge.

Since it is difficult to prove the intent, the current interpretation of Section 802 makes it possible for the authorities to book anyone under it for deleting data that could turn out to be potential evidence in a crime at a later date.

A 24-year-old former cab driver, Khairullozhon Matanov, who dined with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev on the night of the Boston Marathon bombings, was charged under this act for destroying evidence, which included his internet browser history. He had also told lies to the police about the time he and Tamerlan last prayed together. The charge carried a possible sentence of up to 20 years in jail.

The law was devised in response to 2001's Enron scandal, when the energy company hid billions of dollars in debt due to corporate loopholes and creative accounting. It was signed into law by US President George W Bush in 2002.

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