HB 9

85(R) - 2017
House Government Transparency & Operation
Senate Criminal Justice
House Government Transparency & Operation
Senate Criminal Justice
Criminal Procedure

Vote Recommendation

Vote Yes; Amend
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral


Giovanni Capriglione


Van Taylor

Bill Caption

Relating to cybercrime; creating a criminal defense. 

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

HB 9 would amend the Penal Code to add that a person would commit an offense if they intentionally interrupt or suspend access to a computer system through deception and without a legitimate business purpose; the crime would be punishable by a third-degree felony. This bill would also prohibit electronic data tampering, with either malware or ransomware, punishable by a Class A misdemeanor. In the case that someone uses ransomware to defraud or harm another, the degree of felony would depend on the amount involved in the case.

In addition, the act of decrypting encrypted private information without consent of the the owner would be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. If the action was committed with the intent to defraud or harm another, or to intentionally alter, damage, or delete property, the penalty would be a state jail felony assuming the aggregate amount involved is less than $30,000. The penalty would continue to scale up as the aggregate amount involved increases. 

Vote Recommendation Notes

Though there are similar laws already in place, this bill supports our liberty principle of private property rights by taking measures to strengthen the protection of the privacy of electronic information. In particular it makes statute more relevant to current technology.

We do want to additionally point out that that a third-degree felony for interrupting or suspending access to a computer network or computer system may be a steep starting point for that offense. A third degree felony conviction carries a minimum two year prison sentence. It may be appropriate to consider an amendment to start at a Class A misdemeanor and increase from there depending on the severity of the offense. Even though that crime is a violation of private property rights, it amounts to more of an inconvenience that it does to criminal injury depending on the affected network.

Organizations Supporting

Independent Bankers Association of Texas
Texas Conservative Coalition