15 Ways To Get Arrested While Using The Internet

Just like in the real world, some Internet activities come with serious consequences, sometimes leading to legal action by authorities. This list presents fifteen ways people have been arrested using the Internet for relatively benign actions. From posting rap lyrics to dancing, after reading this list, you may never interact with the Internet the same way again.

1. Posting Lyrics on Facebook

Aspiring rapper, and high school student, Cameron D’Ambrosio was arrested for posting rap lyrics on Facebook:


2. Cheating Playing FPS

In Japan, three teenagers were arrested for cheating in the online first-person shooter game Sudden Attack. One of the gamers was a university freshman; another a 17 year-old vocational student; and the last a 17-year-old high school student. The players allegedly used cheat tools in the game, and possibly distributed them as well.

3. Act Insane on League of Legends

A League of Legends player was jailed for months for replying to another player calling him “insane” with: “Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” Probably not the best thing to write, but worth months in jail? Probably not.

4. Have an Open WiFi

Not password protecting your home WiFi network could put you in the sights of police weapons. Barry Covert’s neighbor was using Barry’s WiFi to to access child pornography. The police found no child pornography on Barry’s computers, and arrested the 25 year-old neighbor.

5. Deleting Your Search History

Deleting your search history can land you in court. David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student at that time, was convicted for deleting information on his computer that federal investigators claimed linked him to hacking then vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo accounts. As The Nation reported,

At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there was any investigation into his conduct.

6. Posting Photos Online

Jennifer Pawluck, of Montreal, was arrested for posting a photo online of graffiti depicting a police officer with a bullet in his head.

7. Sending the Wrong Tweet

Before flying to Los Angeles for vacation, Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and Emily Bunting, 24, tweeted with friends about the plans. “Free this week for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?” These Tweets flagged Bryan as a “possible threat” and their passports were confiscated upon arriving in the US. They were questioned for five hours, put in a van of illegal immigrants and held overnight on suspicion of planning to commit crimes. The two tried to explain that “destroying” is British slang for “partying.”


8. Automated Invitations

Tom Gagnon was arrested after his Google+ account sent an automated invitation to his ex-fiancée, violating the no-contact terms of the restraining order that his fiancée had against him.

9. Using VoIP Services like Skype in Ethiopia

Using VoIP over applications such as Skype in Ethiopia carries 15 year jail sentence. As The African Review writes, the new telecommunications law “strictly prohibits VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) which includes audio and video related social media communication, and the transfer of information packages through the fast growing global cyber networks.”

10. Dancing in a Video

Six people in Iran were arrested for dancing in a video to Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ and sentenced to up to one year in prison and 91 lashes. The sentences were suspended for three years, so they served no jail time unless they re-offended within a few years. The video portrays three men and three women dancing on the streets and rooftops of Tehran. In Russia, one teenager was jailed for 15 days and two other women for 10 days after filming themselves dancing near a Second World War monument.

11. Expressing your Opinions

Syria detains people for expressing opinions, reporting and sharing information online, including forwarding political jokes via email. Syrian bloggers and human rights activists told Human Rights Watch that plainclothes security officers spy on Internet cafes.

12. Leaving Internet Comments

Syria also arrests people for leaving Internet comments. Human Rights Watch reported in 2007 that Syrian authorities have held two men in isolation for expressing views online critical of Syria.

13. Translating Articles

In Thailand, an American citizen found himself in jail for translating an article deemed by authorities “offensive to the monarchy” on his blog. Such offenses can mean 15 years in jail. In Indonesia, a man was also arrested and jailed for two years for posting “God does not exist” on his Facebook.

14. Gamble

Online gambling is illegal in many countries around the world. The governments has mostly arrested people for running online gambling websites. A UK citizen was arrested at an airport in Texas for running an online-gambling website taking bets from Americans. The US Government has threatened gamblers with arrest. For instance, in 2008, the FBI warned March Madness betting pools on Facebook that they could be arrested for running, say, an office gambling pool. The Seals With Club (Bitcoin gambling site) administrator was visited by law enforcement.

15. File Sharing

File sharing generally gets one sued in civil court, but it can lead to arrest. Japan, for instance, has arrested file sharers on numerous occasions. We all know, as well, the story of the Pirate Bay administrators.

Know any stories of people being arrested for using the Internet? Share them in the comments section!

Justin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.