Tribunal VI of the Criminal and Correctional Court of Appeals determined that federal courts are competent to judge a case of extortive cyber intrusion.

In re “N.N. s/competencia” (Docket No. 35,556/2016), the Court of Appeals decided a competence dispute between the Instruction and Federal First Instance Courts in a case involving the illegal restriction to the access to a company’s accounting software through a ransomware Trojan virus committed by an unidentified person who requested an amount of 6 Bitcoins (approx. USD 734 at the current exchange rate) as ransom.

The local court of instruction considered that the description of the factual basis of the case would allow the application of sections 157 bis (cyber intrusion) and 168 (extortion) of the Argentine Criminal Code so the case must be judged by the local and ordinary jurisdiction. On the contrary, the Federal First Instance Court understood that the case should be judged under the second paragraph of section 183 (cyber damage) of such Code which would trigger the federal jurisdiction.

The Public Prosecutor’s opinion concluded that the aggressor had performed an unauthorized access to a private database. Section 44 of the Argentine Personal Data Protection Law No. 25,326 provides for the federal jurisdiction for those cases involving databases that are interconnected through interjurisdictional networks. Based on that provision, the Public Prosecutor determined that the case must be analyzed and decided by federal courts.

The Court of Appeals adhered to the Prosecutor’s opinion and ruled that Federal Justice is competent to judge a case involving an extortive cyber intrusion.

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