Pull Up Your Socks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that it is a federal crime to visit a website after being told not to visit it. This decision is based on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

As the linked article notes, this ruling seems to somewhat conflict with a previous ruling by the en banc 9th Circuit, so there is a good chance that it will be appealed to the full court. In the meantime, though, it is conceivable that a sleazy lawyer could file federal charges against people who use pseudonyms to continue participating in an online forum where they have been previously banned for pointing out the ignorance and irrationality of certain protected members.

It’s reassuring that we don’t know of anyone with the combined lack of self-control and ethics that would allow him to do such a thing.

3 thoughts on “Pull Up Your Socks

  1. Personally, I find Orin Kerr’s assessment dubious. He seems to be going out of his way to read the court’s opinion obtusely.

    The basics of the case are thus: Power established permission with Facebook users to gain access to said Facebook/Power app users specific data. Power then used said specific data – skirting and violating CFAA regulations and Facebook policies – to push bulk advertisements to all those Facebook accounts and anyone associated with those accounts. Basically, the court is saying, while you can grant someone (or even multiple people) permission to use your data, that person can’t then turn around and use your data to contact folks directly or indirectly associated with that data.
    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/13-17102/13-17102-2016-07-12.html

    ETA: I should add to the end of the above:

    Particularly if the owner of the community to which the data holders belong says, “cut it out!”

  2. Robin:
    Personally, I find Orin Kerr’s assessment dubious. He seems to be going out of his way to read the court’s opinion obtusely.

    The basics of the case are thus: Power established permission with Facebook users to gain access to said Facebook/Power app users specific data. Power then used said specific data – skirting and violating CFAA regulations and Facebook policies – to push bulk advertisements to all those Facebook accounts and anyone associated with those accounts. Basically, the court is saying, while you can grant someone (or even multiple people) permission to use your data, that person can’t then turn around and use your data to contact folks directly or indirectly associated with that data.
    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/13-17102/13-17102-2016-07-12.html

    ETA: I should add to the end of the above:

    Particularly if the owner of the community to which the data holders belong says, “cut it out!”

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your analysis, but a strict reading of the opinion could at least be construed to make the case that accessing a public website after being explicitly banned violates the CFAA. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that a lawyer with a history of attempted bullying might give it a shot, just to see his opponents forced to respond to federal charges.

    Stranger claims are made every day at UD.

  3. Patrick: I don’t necessarily disagree with your analysis, but a strict reading of the opinion could at least be construed to make the case that accessing a public website after being explicitly banned violates the CFAA.It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that a lawyer with a history of attempted bullying might give it a shot, just to see his opponents forced to respond to federal charges.

    Yeah…ok. I can’t argue with that. Few opinions are perfect and law gets muddled and murky in places anyway. As Kerr notes, for instance, the norms concerning “trespassing private spaces” such as homes and businesses are not necessarily the same for a public website. This is not cut and dry; we are still coming to terms with “trespassing” as it applies in a cyber domain. Murkier still are the laws and principles governing concepts like “intellectual property”, never mind personal data. So, while I think Kerr is being a bit too dramatic in general, in principle I get his (and your) complaint with this case. I think he could have stated it better.

    Stranger claims are made every day at UD.

    Alas, so true…

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