Deleting Browser History Could Be Considered ‘Obstruction Of Justice’

Deleting your internet browser history may be considered obstruction of justice under an obscure Federal Securities law. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was meant to prevent corporations from destroying documents. However, the act may also apply to the deletion of internet browser history.

As reported by Sox-Online, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was penned by Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley, is intended to “protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant to the securities laws, and for other purposes.”

Essentially, the act outlines corporate accountability standards and penalties for those who fail to adhere.

Title VIII section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act specifically addresses corporate criminal fraud accountability and the destruction of documents and records.

“Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation… shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

As reported by The Nation, the act is specifically geared toward corporate investigations. However, in recent years,” federal prosecutors have applied the law to a wider range of activities.”

Most recently, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was applied to the case of 24-year-old Khairullozhon Matanov — who was friends with accused Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev.

In the course of investigation, authorities discovered Matanov dined with the brothers on the evening before the deadly bombings.

Although he denies prior knowledge of Tamerlan and Dhzokhar’s plan to bomb the Boston Marathon, Matanov reportedly deleted his internet browser history after the bombings occurred. He was subsequently charged with obstruction of justice.

As reported by CBC, Manatov is further charged with “destruction, alteration, and falsification of records, documents, and a tangible object in a federal investigation” as set forth in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said the government’s broad interpretation of the act puts everyone at risk.

“Don’t even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to that data. And if we don’t have access to that data, we’re going to slap an obstruction charge that has as 20-year maximum on you.”

Khairullozhon Matanov eventually pleaded guilty in an effort to secure a reduced sentence. However, he is only one of numerous people charged with obstruction of justice for deleting their browser history.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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