The possible (mis)use of US federal law designed to deal with hacking for the purpose of the (admittedly tragic) Megan Meier/Lori Drew case is scary. In short, after a high-profile situation where a young person committed suicide after what appears to be a pattern of harassment conducted via MySpace, it emerged that the mother of a ‘friend’ of the deceased had written many of the messages. Charges didn’t follow in the first instance (state law), but after some time, charges were brought under federal law, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) as amended, which in effect makes it illegal to access any computer ‘without authorization’; the logic goes that because MySpace requires you to give correct information and not be abusive, not following the conditions means that you aren’t authorised.
We’ve talked about the weasel words (or misuse of words!) of authorised computer access on these pages before – in the context of wifi sharing. I have a bad feeling about all of this.