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ToS Violations No Longer a Crime (On Their Own) 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-take-care-of-that-tag-on-your-pillow dept.
nonprofiteer writes "The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act previously made 'unauthorized access to a computer system' a crime — meant to apply to hackers, it also criminalized violations of a website's ToS or of a workplace's computer policies. The law is being changed to make the crime a felony rather than a misdemeanor, which led some to worry about the potential for its abuse. However, Senators Franken and Grassley added an amendment (PDF) to exempt violations of ToS and employer policies from the lists of felony activity. w00t for common sense."
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ToS Violations No Longer a Crime (On Their Own)

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  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:48AM (#37421088) Journal

    A misdemeanor is still a crime, just a less serious crime. The amendment exempts ToS violations from being felonies, but does not stop them from being misdemeanors, then they are still crimes.

  • by redemtionboy (890616) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:50AM (#37421110)

    Adding an amendment does not mean it's been passed and is in effect. If this were true, then we would have gotten rid of the patriot act, withdrawn from foreign deployment, made smoking illegal, beefed up the patriot act, and given every person in america free tacos and jailtime. Here is the current status: http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/bills/112/s1151 [nytimes.com]

  • by poofmeisterp (650750) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:51AM (#37421132) Journal

    ....However, Senators Franken and Grassley added an amendment (PDF) to exempt violations of ToS and employer policies from the lists of felony activity. w00t for common sense.

    Excellent. This really made me blink and re-read many times to ensure the post and all of the articles referenced were actually what I thought I read.

    Hopefully this will prevent scare-suit tactics from large companies that aren't "making enough money this quarter". :)

    I'm referencing activities from the past, not trollin'.

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:14PM (#37422138)

      I'm referencing activities from the past, not trollin'.

      No, you're trolling.

      Referencing actually requires references that SOMEONE recognizes.

      What large companies have sued people over ToS violations because they aren't "making enough money this quarter".

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:52AM (#37421134)
    1. Register commonly mis-spelled domain names. 2. Make ToS "Any access to this website is prohibited." 3. Report all website accesses to the authorities. 4. Invest in new prison construction. 4. PROFIT.
    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:58AM (#37421244)

      4. Invest in new prison construction.

      Thanks for finally revealing what ??? means. Now we know that the penultimate step in every business venture is "Invest in new prison construction." Imagine the effect those stolen underpants will have!

      • by poofmeisterp (650750) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:00PM (#37421264) Journal

        4. Invest in new prison construction.

        Thanks for finally revealing what ??? means. Now we know that the penultimate step in every business venture is "Invest in new prison construction." Imagine the effect those stolen underpants will have!

        Now you had to start running your mouth and training the other "x" percentage of readers that wouldn't have gotten it. Now it's ruined. Forever.

        ??? is investment in prison construction.

        Thanks a lot, thanks.. a... lot. /humor :)

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:40PM (#37421734) Journal
      You think that's a joke, but it's been tried. The "Computer Fraud and Abuse Act" has been around since the 80s, and strengthened several times. It is bad law. [wsj.com]

      In one case, a company set up a website whose terms of use prohibited visiting the website. When their competitor visited, they sued. In another case, someone put a fake profile picture on MySpace and was charged with a crime. You can be sued for checking personal email at work or visiting Facebook.This is law made by people who don't understand computers very well. It also applies to any computer, so if you don't follow the terms of service for a microwave, you can be sued.
      • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:48PM (#37421828)
        That's ok I have a "Terms of Service" too. By accepting this my cash for purchase or license of your goods and services, you waive your rights to your apply customary Terms of Service agreement. This is clearly posted on my website.
      • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:20PM (#37422196)

        You can be sued for checking personal email at work or visiting Facebook.

        Yes, you can, and for good reason. There are times when those are actually a crime, just like how in certain circumstances you really CAN sue someone because YOU spilled hot coffee on YOURSELF.

        Its not always cut and dried 'checking personal email' ... sometimes its 'emailing company documents to corp spies using personal email' or 'making death threats on facebook'.

        These stupid laws exist because of lawyers who will use any twisting thing they can to win a case, right or wrong.

        You make things like ToS violations illegal because otherwise some lawyer twists 'well, just because they were supposed to use email at work doesn't mean they should be fired even though they just did that all day long for 6 years and never once did anything they were assigned to do!' and after enough bullshitting, the company who tried to fire the secretary who dicked around on Facebook all day instead of answering the phones now gets hit with a fucking lawsuit where THEY are the bad guy for firing him/her/it.

    • by orgelspieler (865795) <w0lfie AT mac DOT com> on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:11PM (#37422082) Journal

      1. Register commonly mis-spelled domain names.

      2. Make ToS "Any access to this website is prohibited."

      3. Report all website accesses to the authorities.

      4. Invest in new prison construction.

      5. PROFIT.

      It may sound far-fetched, but your step four is a well-proven business model. It made a lot of people rich in Arizona [npr.org]. But it didn't turn out so well for this guy [wikipedia.org].

  • by XanC (644172) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:53AM (#37421156)

    I use the "Modify Headers" FF extension to add the following to all my browser requests:

    X-Terms-Of-Service: By responding to this request, you agree to place no restrictions on the requesting user's use of the data you send, and that no subsequent terms of service may modify this provision.

  • by cfulmer (3166) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:02PM (#37421276) Homepage Journal
    This is only a proposed change to the law -- the law itself hasn't changed yet. So, the title is wrong.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:04PM (#37421308)

    I don't understand why they added these amendments. If we're going to maintain a proper police state, we need to make as many of our citizen's actions illegal as possible. This makes it easier for our brave and glorious men and women in uniform to keep the peace and protect our precious homeland from all those who would threaten it, or disagree with it, or who just look funny.

    • by stackOVFL (1791898) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:19PM (#37421482)

      "I don't understand why they added these amendments. If we're going to maintain a proper police state, we need to make as many of our citizen's actions illegal as possible. This makes it easier for our brave and glorious men and women in uniform to keep the peace and protect our precious fatherland from all those who would threaten it, or disagree with it, or who just look funny"

      FTFY. Really, how is violating a ToS a crime in any way? At best the user should get suspended or in more serious cases banned from the site for a ToS violation not charged with a f'n crime. This is just another dumbass law to give the appearance of the asshated politicians doing something.

    • by rubypossum (693765) on Friday September 16, 2011 @03:18PM (#37423424)
      I don't know who marked you "Flamebait" but seriously, who likes police states? And furthermore, who doesn't think we're heading for one? The only people I know of are the actual "police" themselves. Every leftist I know hates the "Patriot" act as much as any right wing nut. We are united against the establishment, in this one thing.
  • by thoromyr (673646) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:07PM (#37422032)

    This submission and/or the story is a troll. The referenced act only applies to a restricted set of systems. Roughly speaking it applies to non-public government systems and financial/bank computers. It does not apply to typical websites, nor does it apply to typical workplaces. But don't take my word for it, read the law http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/1030.html [cornell.edu]

  • by Beorytis (1014777) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:13PM (#37422110)
    ...have a lengthy discussion [slashdot.org] about the concept of unconscionability?
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:26PM (#37422274) Homepage

    An unenforced law is still something to be ridiculed and laughed at.

    Every day just about everyone with any sort of server experiences "intrusions" which, if successfull, would result in significant harm to the server. Every day the administrators for these servers shrug it off and say it is just part of the Internet today. What this means is that we have people trying to do harm but in one way or another being blocked from doing it.

    Every once in a while some server fails to block one of these and we have a real intrusion. Everyone complains but unless there are at least $25,000 in damages (in the US) nothing is going to be done. Oh, but should the damages reach $25,000 the FBI will get involved and bring everything to bear on the misguided child that did this. They and their parents are likely to spend thousands of dollars and a few years of their lives defending against this, probably unsuccessfully.

    What this leads to is an entire culture of getting away with stuff and the feeling that anything that can be reached on the Internet is the personal playground for such folks. These aren't mighty hackers, these are misguided children being led down a path by laws that are not being enforced.

    Right now, nobody is going to do anything until something major happens. This is like ignoring your child committing minor acts of vandalism and then, when they break more than a couple of windows sending them to jail for life. This is the wrong way to deal with this and will lead to nothing but bigger and bigger problems later on.

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday September 16, 2011 @03:05PM (#37423242) Journal

    look. the CFAA is not 'meant to target hackers'. it is meant to target dissent. the last high profile CFAA case was Thomas Drake, a --whistleblower--.

    then there is Bradley Manning, a dozen or so counts under CFAA... for stuff like the collateral murder video and the Reyjkavic 13 email. innocuous information about government abuse,,,, now a felony to even tell a reporter about.

    congrats sheep. you get the dictatorship you so richly deserve.

    no go back to reading news about the new iPad

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Friday September 16, 2011 @03:08PM (#37423282)

    Boy people here have short memories. The most highly-publicized recent prosecution under this law was that of Lori Drew [wikipedia.org], the woman who impersonated a boy on MySpace to harass an acquaintance of her daughter. After the target committed suicide, Drew was indicated in 2008 by a Federal grand jury in California (where MySpace is located) and charged under the CFAA with one count of criminal conspiracy and three counts of violating the MySpace TOS.

    Whatever legal standing terms-of-service might have, they should not have the force of law. Otherwise we're letting private entities determine what acts should be criminalized.

  • by nemui-chan (550759) on Friday September 16, 2011 @05:29PM (#37424566) Homepage
    Does that mean that I can file a class action law suit against Sony after agreeing to the PSN terms of service and just be faced with a misdemeanor? (no, I'm not a troll.... this is a serious question)
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Friday September 16, 2011 @06:46PM (#37425148)

    Good luck getting a jury to under stand a TOS in a fed case much less the courts, jails , and prosecutors to have the time or room to fit all the cases in.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday September 16, 2011 @06:49PM (#37425174) Homepage
    The rest of you, continue with your humdrum ranting.

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