New legislation in the State of California now makes it a criminal act to spread ransomware. The law went into effect on January 1, 2017 and allows law enforcement agencies to convict hackers using ransomware.
Senator Bob Hertzberg introduced the law and it was signed in September of 2016. The use of ransomware now comes with a felony charge and up to four years in prison. While this is the same as it was under extortion laws, the scope has been broadened to make charges more applicable.
The introduction of ransomware to any computer is a crime in California now, while it may have been insufficient to convict a hacker under the extortion laws.