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Crime United States Your Rights Online

DOJ: Violating a Site's ToS Is a Crime 536

ideonexus writes "CNET has obtained a statement to be released by the Department of Justice tomorrow defending its broad interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that defines violations of 'authorized access' in information systems as including any act that violates a Web site's terms of service, while the White House is arguing for expanding the law even further. This would criminalize teenagers using Google for violating its ToS, which says you can't use its services if 'you are not of legal age to form a binding contract,' and turns multiple attempts to upload copyrighted videos to YouTube into 'a pattern of racketeering' according to a GWU professor and an attorney cited in the story."
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DOJ: Violating a Site's ToS Is a Crime

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:35PM (#38063624)

    In other news: Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:41PM (#38063794)

    The Attorney General is appointed by the administration, and I think operates very closely with the administration. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the DOJ is responsible for the ATF, DEA, and FBI.

  • by Nickodeimus ( 1263214 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:42PM (#38063806)
    Go back to Civics class. DOJ is executive branch. Its headed by the Attorney General of the United States. This position is appointed by the President.

    Thus, Obama is Holder's boss and can [to my knowledge] fire him at will.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:43PM (#38063818)

    The Department of Justice is part of the Executive Branch, not Judicial.

  • by travdaddy ( 527149 ) <> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:45PM (#38063862)
    The DOJ sure is responsible for a lot of recent crazy stories lately:

    They're the department that bought the $16 muffins. link []

    They claim that Willie Nelson's song The Gambler is proof that online poker is illegal (yes, you read that right).link []

    And now a ToS violation is a crime.

    Maybe the DOJ needs to be brought to justice.
  • by Freddybear ( 1805256 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:53PM (#38064054) [] []

    " The current version of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) poses a threat to the civil liberties of the millions of Americans who use computers and the Internet. As interpreted by the Justice Department, many if not most computer users violate the CFAA on a regular basis. Any of them could face arrest and criminal prosecution.

            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. That situation is intolerable. Routine computer use should not be a crime. Any cybersecurity legislation that this Congress passes should reject the extraordinarily broad interpretations endorsed by the United States Department of Justice.

            In my testimony, I want to explain why the CFAA presents a significant threat to civil liberties. I want to then offer two narrow and simple ways to amend the CFAA to respond to these problems. I will conclude by responding to arguments I anticipate the Justice Department officials might make in defense of the current statute."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:55PM (#38064088)

    If everything is illegal, it means the government gets to pick and choose who to prosecute, meaning you'd better be on their good side.

    Same as it ever was.

    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957.

    After Attorney General and eventual Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson [], put it ca. 1940:

    "With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him."

    The only thing that's changed in the intervening 70 years is that in 1940, this sort of thing was regarded by the Judicial and the Executive branches as a bad thing.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:55PM (#38065140)

    Thus, Obama is Holder's boss and can [to my knowledge] fire him at will.

    Why Obama hasn't yet done so is a mystery to me. There's some pretty crazy stuff coming up the pipeline from the "Fast and Furious" scandal.

    It's off topic, but I'll explain a little. The program "walked" guns (via drug cartel smuggling networks) into Mexico without a) keeping track of the guns, b) informing Mexican authorities, or c) ending the program (the last two points differentiate it from a similar failure during the Bush administration). Then a federal law enforcement officer died in a shootout that included two guns from this program.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry