What would you say if we told you that, chances are, you’ve broken the law recently?
More than likely, your response would be something like, “Excuse me, TipHero. I’m a law-abiding citizen. You definitely have the wrong person, and frankly, I don’t appreciate your tone!”
And you know what, if that were your response, we wouldn’t blame you in the least! After all, that was basically OUR reaction we saw the video down below from Reader’s Digest and found out that some very common things are actually very, very illegal. We’ve been breaking the law all this time and had no idea!
Our only comfort, and the one we offer you right now? We’re all in this funny little mess together, because very few people across the United States know that these actions are against the law. Let’s check out some of the more common infractions by otherwise perfect rule-followers, and make sure not to do them again— or maybe just ask our law-makers to finally strike them from the books!
It might sound crazy now that everybody and their grandma has a profile on Facebook that not only uses their real name but also a picture, but those of us who remember when the Internet first became a “thing” also remember how cautious people used to be about revealing their offline identity. And some of us? We still are!
After all, sometimes you want to be able to check out a free trial, discuss Game of Thrones, or relax with silly quizzes without a bunch of strangers knowing your business. Unfortunately, it turns out that this anonymity-protecting tactic is actually, probably illegal.
Why? Because of vague, semi-open-to-interpretation wording in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). NPR explains:
In English? When you sign up for a Web service, a dating one or even to attain the ability to comment on NPR.org, you usually agree to a long terms of service that we bet most people don’t even read. The way the DOJ wants the law interpreted means breaking any of those terms would constitute a crime.
Orin Kerr, a professor of Law at George Washington University, also testified at the hearing and put it more concretely:
“In the Justice Department’s view, the CFAA criminalizes conduct as innocuous as using a fake name on Facebook or lying about your weight in an online dating profile.
Yikes! So if you’re not willing to use your real name to access something online, your best bet is not trying to access it at all.
“Now wait,” we can hear you saying already. “There’s no way that’s true. It’s an office supply. How can something they sell at Staples actually be illegal?! Can’t be true.”
And yet, friends, it is. Just ask New York. And Florida. And California.
The reasoning? Graffiti.
Now, does that mean that police officers are going to enter your home and search the junk drawer in your kitchen? Probably not. But there have been cases of arrests – including a 13-year-old in Oklahoma! – so if you’re doing anything else on this list, maybe make sure you don’t also have a permanent marker on you.
Moms, we’ve all been there. You’re tired, you’re shopping, and your munchkin won’t turn back from a terror into an angel unless they get some food in their system. Out of options, you reach into your cart and open that box of cookies early, allowing the tike to “graze” while you finish your shopping.
Even some adults admit to chowing down pre-purchase, with some even grazing freely in the fruits-and-vegetables department. But like everything else on this list, this one’s actually illegal on a technicality.
Why? Because it’s shoplifting. Until you’ve paid for them, those grapes or chips aren’t yours yet, and still belong to the store.
Does that mean the salespeople are going to throw you in grocery jail? Probably not. But help them keep their inventory accurate by sticking to packaged foods if you MUST graze, and make sure to hang onto the packaging so you can pay for it when you leave.
The accidental law-breaking doesn’t stop there! Check out the video below from Reader’s Digest for three more common, but very illegal, things we’ve all done at least once.
Crazy, right? Do you know of any other odd illegal activities most people don’t know? Does your state or town have any weird laws? Is there anybody out there who HASN’T done at least one thing on these lists?