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DOJ: Violating a Site's ToS Is a Crime

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the who'd-click-without-reading? dept.

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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Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063412)

For a second there I thought the Obama Administration (and government in general, for that matter) had a sudden attack of conscience and decency. For that second I actually got to believe that it was even *remotely* possible that a government official might actually take the side of the vast majority of citizens and consumers in America, as opposed to functioning exclusively as the slavering lapdog of corporate America. In a brief instant I got to see what the U.S. might look like if we were an actual democracy instead of just a poorly-disguised corporatocracy.

Well, it was a nice second.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063490)

For that second I actually got to believe that it was even *remotely* possible that a government official might actually take the side of the vast majority of citizens and consumers in America

So what were you high on? ;-)

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (1, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063574)

Tire sealant.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063496)

Hey look it's inbred freetard elrous0! You just come back from fucking your mom/sister?

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063554)

Not once. Not even once. You, and you alone, are nothing but a pathetic sandwich that has never known bread. Not a single piece of bread is known to you! Your true power has been revealed!

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38064024)

I gotta admit, sometimes these chains can be damn funny.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063614)

What does this have to do with Obama ? This is the Judicial branch, not the Executive.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (5, Informative)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (3, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063818)

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

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063832)

What does this have to do with Obama ? This is the Judicial branch, not the Executive.

"while the White House is arguing for expanding the law even further [whitehouse.gov] ."

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063906)

This comes from the Justice Department, not the Supreme Court (judicial branch.) Justice is an executive branch department, the Attorney General is nominated by the president.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (-1, Redundant)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063912)

DOJ (Department of Justice) is part of the Executive Branch. The US Attorneys act as prosecutors in trying federal crimes. Eric Holder is the Attorney General.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (-1, Redundant)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063950)

Oh boy. DOJ is part of the Executive branch. It reports to Obama and he exercises control in appointing its officers.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (-1, Redundant)

b0lt (729408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063994)

DOJ is part of the executive branch and is led by the attorney general, who is directly appointed by the president.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (5, Insightful)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063616)

I have a feeling this won't hold up in court, no matter what the DOJ wants. If nothing else, treating ToS as legal documents would be a jurisdictional nightmare. For instance: Would you have to abide by Facebook's ToS on every site with a "Like" button and a FB tracking cookie? If I write in my site's ToS that all spam is unauthorized access, can I get Jeff Bezos thrown in jail every time Amazon sends me another coupon I didn't ask for?

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063700)

After so many lies and disappointments from this administration, I'm curious why you or anyone would expect otherwise, though I disagree with your "corporatocracy" remark as this is an expansion of government power.

Re:Wow, I first read that as "*isn't* a crime" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063896)

The USA is a constitutional republic. Iran is a democracy, as was Greece. Democracy means Mob Rule

Woo hoo! (4, Funny)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063452)

/goes off to create websites with demented ToS.

Re:Woo hoo! (4, Funny)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063510)

Be sure to include:
  1. Souls of first born
  2. Cancellation Fees
  3. Cow bell

Re:Woo hoo! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063768)

dont forget "prima nocta"

Re:Woo hoo! (5, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063518)

By reading this site, you agree to pay the website owner $1 per word. The fact that this term is displayed with white text on a light beige background does not invalidate it in any way.

Re:Woo hoo! (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063530)

Thou shall not breathe. (hidden in the heart of an extremely long ToS)

Re:Woo hoo! (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063748)

It would be good enough to say "Thou shall not breed."

Re:Woo hoo! (2, Interesting)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063548)

I'd ask what your new website would be named, but Slashdot's own terms of service say:

Prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to: (...) using any information obtained from SourceForge.net in order to contact (...) any user without such user's prior explicit consent (including non-commercial contacts like chain letters);

Oops, I guess replying at all is already contacting.Shit, I think I hear FBI vans.

TOS, EULA (4, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063492)

This spells potentially problems for a lot of people because most people do not read the TOS or EULA documents.

They're often in some obscure link in tiny italic font because companies don't really care if you read them- they use them to kick you off when it is convenient for them.

How many people for example are aware of Slashdot's TOS that states you have to sacrifice a goat once a week if you disable ads.

Think I'm joking?

I am- but I bet the vast majority of slashdot users wouldn't know for sure because they havn't read the TOS.

I used to- but they're so long and full of legaleese I stopped.

If citizens are going to be held accountable for violating TOS as a criminal offense- we're either going to have a bunch more criminals OR in order for TOS to hold water they have to pass a dumb user test- be short, to the point and easily understandable by Joe the plumber.

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063534)

Sorry- I really should proofread my carp!

I am- but I bet the vast majority of slashdot users wouldn't know for sure because they havn't read the TOS.

I used to- but they're so long and full of legaleese I stopped.

I'm not picking on /. TOS (which I haven't read) - I'm picking on TOS in general.

Re:TOS, EULA (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063770)

I'm confused. Do I have to keep sacrificing goats or not?

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063598)

This spells potentially problems for a lot of people because most people do not read the TOS or EULA documents.

Hm...

"This spells potentially [sic] problems for a lot of people because most people do not read the laws that their government has passed"

Are you sure that you are not guilty of a felony?

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063610)

To be fair, Slashdot specifically is very nice about that; some of us have a little checkbox that lets us disable ads legally in order to thank us for our contributions. I realize you were talking in hypotheticals though.

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063844)

Slashdot can also be buggy in regards to :) What if the checkbox accidently gets unchecked by a web admin script and I get my ad, wouldn't that violate the TOS stating that I can disable ads which I chose to do so with proper contributions? Can I sue? Whoever wrote this proposed law has their head so far up their ass they can see china.

Re:TOS, EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063678)

How many people for example are aware of Slashdot's TOS that states you have to sacrifice a goat once a week if you disable ads.

Think I'm joking?

I am

NOW you tell me? I've been sacrificing all those goats for nothing?

Re:TOS, EULA (4, Interesting)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063902)

Another point to add is that almost all of them look like job contracts. They basically save every and all rights because you're the one interested in using the service and not the other way around.

Sometimes they do this just to be on the safe side (legally speaking) but that
still feels wrong and forces very easily breakable ToS on users.

quote from Salon.com ToS. [salon.com]
(so full of lawyerly jargon that makes you want to shoot the writer/s)

By posting or otherwise providing a Submission, you grant Salon the
right to reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, broadcast, license, perform, post,
sell, translate, incorporate, create derivative works from, exploit, distribute
and otherwise use the Submission in any and all media, now known or hereafter
devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity
, without according you any compensation. Salon will generally attribute Submissions to their authors, but you understand and agree that it is not obligated to do so, and you release and waive any right to have Submissions attributed to you. You also understand and agree that Salon has no obligation to publish or use any Submission in any way, and that Salon may remove or revised any Submission that has been posted, published, or distributed on or through the Site in its sole discretion.

good luck getting a jury to under stand the TOS at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063924)

good luck getting a jury to under stand the TOS at trial criminal law = right to trail by jury.

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063936)

On a related note, end-user software license agreements are also far too long and winded. This blog entry here shows a surprising and refreshing approach to how things should be done:

http://lawactually.blogspot.com/2011/10/thats-interesting-approach.html [blogspot.com]

That seems to cover most bases, and I would hope the legal system would cover that software's creator.

Re:TOS, EULA (5, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063992)

the vast majority of slashdot users wouldn't know for sure because they havn't read the TOS.

This is exacerbated by the fact that almost every TOS agreement or EULA says something like, "we can change this at any time, and don't have to notify you".

Re:TOS, EULA (2, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064034)

There is another option.... people will be forced to avoid sites that have a ToS that is more than a couple sentences long. Nobody has the time, or the lawyers, necessary to fully understand these crappy terms anyway... Everyone assumes that if they do right by any normal civil expectation, that they won't be in trouble.

Again, business wins. Thanks for nothing, Obama. I'm glad you didn't pretend to be pro-life and do nothing about it like a Republican, but you did pretend to be for the people, and have done almost nothing about it.

Re:TOS, EULA (2)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064036)

How many people for example are aware of Slashdot's TOS that states you have to sacrifice a goat once a week if you disable ads.

Think I'm joking?

I am-

Man! I wish I had read your entire post before sacrificing this flock of goats!

Re:TOS, EULA (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064050)

You had me really worried there. I was trying to count up how many weeks I've had ads disabled.

What is going on down there? (5, Interesting)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063494)

I live in Canada, and while we aren't without our problems as well, the headlines coming out of the US lately, including this one, are just ridiculous.

What is the problem? Since when did the government become so extremely pro-corporation, and anti-citizen? Why is there no pressure to do something, like cap contributions by corporations to political parties, or something, anything?

For the people, by the people? What happened to that.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063556)

They got pissed off about being a Pro-Communist administration...So they decided to go off the deep-end in the opposite direction.

Re:What is going on down there? (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063558)

Why is there no pressure to do something, like cap contributions by corporations to political parties, or something, anything?

There have been attempts to do so. They get struck down by the corporatist supreme court.

Re:What is going on down there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063564)

We have a movement afoot to try and return us to Constitutionally limited government (and they don't crap in the street when they get together), but for some reason everyone here dumps on it.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063654)

Except that those same people are the ones telling us that we can't limit corporate involvement in politics because they are "people".

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063952)

You're thinking of both mainstream political parties.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064056)

That's because the people from each side of the political divide arguing about constitutionally limited government have very different ideas of what those constitutional limits are. The bit about establishment of religion vs freedom thereof alone has fueled so many very heated debates. The type of debate that tends to end with someone getting compared to Hitler.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063676)

when did the government become so extremely pro-corporation

The 19th century called and wants its shock and outrage back.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063834)

19th century? Corporations have had their hands in governments centuries before then.

Re:What is going on down there? (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064016)

Millenia even. Long before there was even a United States, the United States was controlled by the corporations!

Re:What is going on down there? (5, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063874)

Why is there no pressure to do something, like cap contributions by corporations to political parties, or something, anything?

Because citizens like us can't fund the lobbying necessary to compete with the corporations.

Re:What is going on down there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063926)

Yes we are wondering that ourselves. Despite some resistance to destroying our RIGHT to own firearms, our other RIGHTS enumerated in the Bill of Rights are under constant attack. It may take a violent overthrow to end this. I hope not, but even Obama is a tool for the bureaucracy. He's shown ZERO interest in standing up for individual rights. The list of federal crimes just increases.

Enough (1, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063502)

Impeach Obama.

Re:Enough (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063524)

Surely the next guy will be different!

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063718)

This country needs change!

Re:Enough (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064014)

I certainly HOPE so.

Re:Enough (-1, Troll)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063634)

Yes, because he has control over the DOJ. Nice going in that civics class, by the way.

Re:Enough (2)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063720)

Dear crispy jeezus, really? You might want to take a remedial civics class yourself. DOJ is an Executive Branch office, run by an Obama-appointed cunt by the name of Eric Holder.

Re:Enough (2)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063728)

Yes, He can fire anybody at the DOJ whenever he wants. There may be political repercussions, but he has that power. It was established by SCOTUS the first time a president fired a postmataster general. And you can bet that if you have the ability to fire someone, you certainly have the ability to control the direction of their efforts, either directly or indirectly.

Re:Enough (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063746)

Well, considering the DOJ is part of the Executive Branch, he does. Indirectly, through the Attorney General, but he's still part of the Cabinet.

This is evidenced by the few high-profile times where the President has instructed the DOJ to stop prosecuting things (making them de facto legal)

Re:Enough (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063908)

Yes he does, dumbfuck.

Re:Enough (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064048)

Come on guys, this fellow clearly wasn't talking about civics as in government, he was talking about a Honda specific automotive engineering course that his friend "oldhack" attends with him!

Otherwise he would look like a total moron.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063672)

Impeach Obama.

Damn Straight! And "Occupy the Internet!"

Oh, wait ...

Vote third party (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063764)

Stop voting for Republicrats. Neither party gives a damn about your rights, they are both working hard to establish tyranny and have been largely successful over the past few decades.

It's all about power (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063532)

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.

Re:It's all about power (2)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063940)

I know many might jump on you for paraphrasing Ayn Rand, but I think you're correct. We've already seen that such rules ARE abused, and that almost any potential lawbreaking has been used as a foothold for surveillance or other actions which impact us as citizens.

Re:It's all about power (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064052)

I'm not even a fan of Ayn Rand (in fact in most things I strongly disagree with her) but she is right that legislation is often used as a cudgel to add to the legislators' power base.

Re:It's all about power (2)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063972)

And even if you can defend yourself you'll probably go broke doing so. We've left behind the rule of law and moved to the rule of simple power.

New ToS clause (5, Funny)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063546)

The following acts are considered violations of these Terms of Service. Additional acts may be considered violations at the owner's discretion.

1. Being a member/employee of the United States Department of Justice.

2. Being a member/employee of the RIAA and/or associated organisations.

3. Being a member/employee of the MPAA and/or associated organisations.

Re:New ToS clause (1)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063618)

Ooh - bittorrent trackers can have TOS, can't they?

Re:New ToS clause (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063776)

If it's a "private" one which requires an account.

Re:New ToS clause (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063646)

Why all that trouble? Just put in your ToS "you must give me all your money", and start spamming with the URL of your site all around, specially in DOJ/RIAA/MPAA mails. Lets see for how much time they follow their own rules.

Re:New ToS clause (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063828)

Unofficial libraries had that ToS listed for ages, and the RIAA/MPAA etc have been breaking the ToS since day one! I think it's about time we fine them.
Yeah, I call them unofficial libraries, because pirates live on the sea. The library is the place you go to read books, listen to music and watch movies etc.

Obigatory: Ayn Rand (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063572)

"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean 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 or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be
much easier to deal with."

Re:Obigatory: Ayn Rand (1)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063704)

That's Mr. Rearden to you.

small print - send me $1M or goto jail (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063588)

Yeah that really make sense.

"If you view this web page then you must send me $1M within 3 days as a viewing fee."

Eric Holder is a cunt. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063624)

In other news: Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

I've heard this one before (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063692)

Wasn't this the charge against the woman in the Megan Meier [wikipedia.org] suicide? As I recall, it didn't work. The judge essentially said that the law was too vague to mean that ToS violations counted as unauthorized access [wikipedia.org]

The DoJ can say whatever want, but they'll have a hard time of it. A federal court set precedent saying the opposite.

Re:I've heard this one before (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063934)

Which is why I'm facepalming at everyone here decrying what's going on. What's going on isn't happening in a vacuum. TOS violation = CFAA violation makes sense when you look at the practical applications of TOS violations that they're trying to prosecute now with regards to cyber bullying and other abusive use of social networking. It's incredibly tone deaf in light of what's happened..

Despite that, what I'm really double facepalming on is that there's a huge unintended consequence and that everyone's right to be worried.

There needs to be a sane path to being able to prosecute the abuse of FB/Twitter/etc. in such a way it's leading to suicide, etc.

thats fine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063726)

but the website agreed to MY terms & Conditions, its right there in my headers on every single request

X-USERTOS: you agree to exempt this user from all TOS agreements this site carries, you must deny all access to this user if you do not agree.

Re:thats fine (1)

james_van (2241758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063910)

i like that, ill have to add that to all my headers

Love it.....gov = .stupid (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063732)

So I create a website. I put a huge lengthy terms of service agreement. Several hundred pages long. All seems pretty good and to the viewer's benefit.

In the terms of service, I include a statement that the individual agrees in exchange for the use of this site that they will email naked photos of themselves to the account specified.

I then contact all of Congressmen commenting on how this article is degrading them. And how I just wanted to make them aware of it.

Then after they click the terms of service. I sue to have them all charged as criminals for breaking my terms of service. That will prove how stupid this interpretation is...

Crap!!!!! This isn't going to work...

Just found a flaw in my logic. Half these politicians are already looking for any opportunity to send people illicit photos of themselves.

The flaw in no way diminishes the stupidity of this interpretation.

Trap (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063742)

If I create a simple, one page site the terms of service of which simply say "you are not permitted to use this web site unless you are Rinisari", I could turn them over to the authorities because they've committed a crime?

Re:Trap (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063838)

If I create a simple, one page site the terms of service of which simply say "you are not permitted to use this web site unless you are Rinisari", I could turn them over to the authorities because they've committed a crime?

Why go to the trouble of creating a website? Since there are so many laws on the books and nobody really knows when or if they are breaking one, you could probably turn anyone over to the authorities.

Great Business Opportunity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063754)

It's a great time to start a ToS law firm and troll around.

Interesting tidbit (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063796)

From the article:

Stewart Baker, an attorney at Steptoe and Johnson who was previously a Homeland Security assistant secretary and general counsel at the National Security Agency, has suggested that the administration's proposals to expand CFAA are Draconian.

Before you dismiss this as a "no shit" statement, keep in mind that the Mr. Baker was previously employed by Homeland Security and the NSA -- two organizations not known for their even-handedness and promotion of actual freedom and justice. For someone who may have been employed by the very same Presidential Administration seeking to expand the reach of the CFAA to be this blunt is amazing. I sincerely hope that our "leaders" keep that in mind.

This just in... (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063824)

...America has officially jumped the shark. It was a nice ride, folks, we'll catch you on the flip side.

Good (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063836)

Take it out of the legal gray area where no one's entirely sure what's enforceable. The SCOTUS will have to rule on it eventually, might as well get the ball rolling. A teenager brought to trial for using Google would make a perfect test case. Although, for all our sakes, I hope one of the conservative judges drops dead soon, or else we can expect another 5-4 ruling that corporations are all-powerful.

Reminder! (2)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063850)

Laws should work FOR the people whose government represents them.

This whole fiasco reminds me, clearly, that business has priority over citizens in the US. Getting sick of this place more and more as the constitution and the purpose of our government has faded into the corrupt benefit of greed and exploit.

What's up with the DOJ? (3, Informative)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063862)

The DOJ sure is responsible for a lot of recent crazy stories lately:

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

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

And now a ToS violation is a crime.

Maybe the DOJ needs to be brought to justice.

It's just politics, so it's all OK, right? (2)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063892)

There was a time when I would have seen this as simple politics: appease the wealthy donors and corporations, but in the end the politicians don't follow through, or if they do it's struck down in court. Both sides know the game, both sides get something out of it [1], and in the end it doesn't matter too much. No harm, no foul. It's just politics.

But this isn't just politics: corporations creating law by TOS? That's the definition of corporatism. In the future we should expect this precedent to be used by auto manufacturers, home builders, coffee baristas, etc...

[1] The benefits to wealthy donors and corporations are: control of the conversation (setting the boundaries of 'reasonable' discussion), some laws passed in their favor (even if it takes them a long time), their interests are always addressed first during uncertain times (like with new technology).

wait a minute (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063900)

How often am I supposed to read a sites TOS ?
Most contain a clause essentially meaning something like "we can change this TOS at any time we like, in any we way want without letting you know."

This interpretation of this Act makes it impossible for any law abiding citizen to use the internet while being sure that he does nothing that makes him a criminal. The TOS can change any second.

Chilling effect (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063930)

You read stuff like this, and you start to re-evaluate your use of web sites. You come to the realization that "I don't really need this". You could be outside, helping to reduce the obesity factor in the US ever so slightly. You could be doing a lot of other things.

For YouTube, something like this ToS business wasn't even necessary. When Google wanted my phone number, I quit trying to log in. The only lock-in was my favorites. I downloaded the list, and if I really cared about it I could probably host it as a simple list of links someplace else. I don't care that much though.

With Flickr I have a bit more "lock-in"; but even that could be moved with a combination of automated tools and some grunt-work patching gaps in the automated tools.

People will start cocooning like that. The "big web" will become like McDonalds--ubiquitous, inferior, and sufficiently appealing to the masses who don't care.

The "small web" will perhaps work on an entirely different protocols and I suspect it already does (IRC?). I'd move there, but I haven't reached that tipping point yet. Also, the "small web" has the risk of there being "illegal content" on it and being labeled as a crime itself by TPTB.

Well, we've done it. We've gotten to the point where we need samizdat. Is it totalitarianism yet?

Ah the possibilities (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063938)

1) Create a website that purports to contain links to all sorts of music, tv shows, movies etc. To gain access you have to register and agree to the TOS
2) Have a reasonable TOS, but buried somewhere in it is a line that says in effect "If you agree to the terms of this TOS, you hereby assign the legal rights to any and all copyrighted material you or your employer owns to the owner of this website". Put a convenient "I agree to the TOS" checkbox on the registration page. Log who registers and who they works for...
3) Start sending out DMCA takedown notices to Warner, Sony, Universal...
4) Profit :P

Ummm. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38063996)

Must be nice for somebody. I'd be totally cool with this if you couldn't creep something like "The Terms of this agreement may change at any time without prior notice to you." in.

just like the Lacey Act (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38063998)

Under the Lacey Act, it's illegal to violate other countries' laws in some cases.

Gibson Guitar has been raided twice (but not charged) for using illegal wood from India that "wasn't finished enough." India will tell you that Gibson follows their laws, but that's not enough for the federal government.

This is the next logical step.

"Facebook says I didn't violate their ToS!?" "Too bad, go to jail."

Criminals, Felons, all (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38064002)

I am now convinced that the only purpose for Government is to pass enough laws to make felons out of the entire population.

Gaming TOS/EULA (3, Funny)

DroolTwist (1357725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064006)

World of Warcraft alone will fill up juvenile detention facilities around the country with all the TOS violations from teenagers.

Orin Kerr's testimony opposing the CFAA... (4, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38064054)

http://volokh.com/2011/11/14/my-congressional-testimony-on-the-need-to-narrow-the-computer-fraud-and-abuse-act/ [volokh.com]

http://cdn.volokh.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Testimony-of-Orin-S-Kerr.pdf [volokh.com]

" 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."

Protest with fake profiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38064066)

As a token of protest, please create a(nother) fake profile on your favourite website today! I just did it on FB.

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