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Company Using Proxy To Evade Craigslist Block Violated CFAA 186

WillgasM writes "Changing your IP address or using proxy servers to access public websites you've been forbidden to visit is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, according to a judge's broad ruling (PDF) during a case on Friday involving Craigslist and 3taps. Opponents argue that this creates a slippery slope that many unsuspecting web users may find themselves upon. With your typical connection being assigned an address dynamically, is an IP ban really a 'technological barrier' to be circumvented? How long until we see the first prosecution for unauthorized viewing of a noindex page?" Probably a long time; the judge in the case rejected the slippery slope argument: 'There, and sprinkled throughout its earlier, ostensibly text-based, arguments, 3taps posits outlandish scenarios where, for example, someone is criminally prosecuted for visiting a hypothetical website www.dontvisitme.com after a "friend" — apparently not a very good one — says the site has beautiful pictures but the homepage says that no one is allowed to click on the links to view the pictures. Needless to say, the Court’s decision [regarding 3taps' actions]... does not speak to whether the CFAA would apply to other sets of facts where an unsuspecting individual somehow stumbles on to an unauthorized site.' Willful evasion of blocks for commercial gain, on the other hand ...
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Company Using Proxy To Evade Craigslist Block Violated CFAA

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  • Store Ban (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:03AM (#44617003)
    Being banned from a site is no different from being banned from a physical location. The security is week. You can come up with hypothetical around wearing a mask into the store. Someone comes into a store wearing a mask and is confused for a criminal. But at the end of the day, if a person tells you go away and you don't, judges are not going to be sympathetic.
  • Re:Trespassing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:17AM (#44617201)

    The company knew they were banned, because Craigslist had sent them a cease and desist letter. Blocking their IP address range was just an enforcement measure, but the ban was against the company, not the IP address range.

  • Re:mod up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:49AM (#44617625) Homepage Journal

    Short version:

    Wah wah they told us we couldn't load their servers with screen-scraper shit and sent us legal threats and official notarized C&Ds, and we did it anyway by changing an IP address--a normal thing that users can do even without realizing it--and the judge got pissed at us! I mean how is this different than changing our clothes before walking back into a store we're banned from for harassing the staff?! Are they going to arrest us for changing our clothes now?!

    There's a huge logical fallacy in their legal argument.

  • by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:53AM (#44617667) Homepage

    If I put up a web site that forbid anyone working for or on behalf of any TLA or law enforcement agency from accessing any publically accessible content on my site could I use CFAA against the government when they ignore my wishes and suck the whole thing into a NSA database?

    No. Governments can do almost everything the laws it imposes say citizens (subjects?) cannot do. That's the point of a government, to be the single exception to the rule so that it can impose the rule on everyone else. Also, when the government promises it won't do something that isn't really binding. Sure, some of the time they'll more or less try, without much emphasis and only if they're feeling like it, most of the time however it'll be like that Star Wards exchange between Lando and Darth Vader:

    Darth Vader: "Calrissian! Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship."
    Lando Calrissian: "You said they'd be left at the city under my supervision."
    Darth Vader: "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

    Over and over and over again.

  • Re:Trespassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:03AM (#44618649) Homepage

    "Since when is craigslist (or any other web site) a public place?"

    Since the moment you could could got to *.craigslist.org without having to authorize (i.e. enter a user name and password) Or in other words, always.

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