Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mere Violations of Consumer Site Terms of Service Aren't Crimes

By Eugene Volokh - March 31, 2020 at 09:14PM

From an opinion Friday by Judge John D. Bates (D.D.C.) in Sandvig v. Barr:

Plaintiffs are academic researchers who intend to test whether employment websites discriminate based on race and gender. In order to do so, they plan to provide false information to target websites, in violation of these websites' terms of service. Plaintiffs bring a pre-enforcement challenge, alleging that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as applied to their intended conduct of violating websites' terms of service, chills their First Amendment right to free speech.

Without reaching this constitutional question, the Court concludes that the CFAA does not criminalize mere terms-of-service violations on consumer websites and, thus, that plaintiffs' proposed research plans are not criminal under the CFAA….

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