David Frum

03.04.13

You’re Under Arrest For Lying About Your Height on Match.com

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The above video was aired before the current CFAA passed through Congress, but Alyona Minkovski explains what the changes mean for the user. 

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has some major wording problems.

Since the death of Aaron Swartz, who was arrested and charged under the CFAA for downloading a large number documents from JSTOR, there have been calls to disambiguate the law. [Emphasis mine].

Here is the CFAA's greatest flaw: the law makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization, but doesn't clearly explain what that means. This murkiness gives the government tons of leeway to be creative in bringing charges.

For example, overzealous prosecutors have gone so far as to argue that the CFAA criminalizes violations of private agreements like an employer's computer use policy or a web site's terms of service.

Under the current version of the CFAA, you can technically be arrested for some seemingly ridiculous offenses such as lying about your age on Facebook, letting someone other than yourself log into your Pandora account, or sex messaging someone on eHarmony.