Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Cyber security overload coming to a computer near you?

Imagine that President Obama could order the arrest of anyone who broke a promise on the Internet. So you could be jailed for lying about your age or weight on an Internet dating site. Fanciful, right?

Think again. Congress is now poised to grant the Obama administration’s wishes in the name of “cybersecurity.”

The little-known law at issue is called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It was enacted in 1986 to punish computer hacking. But Congress has broadened the law every few years, and today it extends far beyond hacking. The law now criminalizes computer use that “exceeds authorized access” to any computer. Today that violation is a misdemeanor, but the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet to vote on making it a felony.

The problem is that a lot of routine computer use can exceed “authorized access.” The law would give computer owners the power to criminalize any computer use they don’t like. If that sounds far-fetched, consider a few recent cases.

In 2009, the Justice Department prosecuted a woman for violating the “terms of service” of the social networking site MySpace.com. The woman had been part of a group that set up a MySpace profile using a fake picture. The feds charged her with conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Prosecutors say the woman exceeded authorized access because MySpace required all profile information to be truthful.

In 2010, the Justice Department charged a defendant with unauthorized access for using a computer to buy tickets from Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster’s “terms of use” only permitted non-automated purchases, and the defendant used a computer script to make the purchases.

[Excerpt of a WSJ article by former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr]

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One Response to “Cyber security overload coming to a computer near you?”

  1. Yeah,i agreed with your thought.Thank you so much for providing such helpful information. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks!


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