Menu
ACLU lawsuit challenges US computer hacking law

ACLU lawsuit challenges US computer hacking law

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act limits online discrimination research, the group says

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging a 30-year-old hacking-crimes law, with the civil liberties group saying the law inhibits research about online discrimination.

The ACLU on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act on behalf of a group of academic researchers, computer scientists, and journalists. The CFAA limits online research because of its "overbroad criminal prohibitions," the ACLU said.

The group of plaintiffs in the lawsuit want to investigate online discrimination in areas like housing and employment, "but they often can't," the ACLU said in a blog post. Courts have interpreted a provision of the CFAA prohibiting people from exceeding authorized access to a computer to include violations of website terms of service, the ACLU said.

Some terms of service prohibit providing false information, creating multiple accounts, or scraping the content of websites.

"The problem is that those are the very methods that are necessary to test for discrimination on the internet, and the academics and journalists who want to use those methods for socially valuable research should not have to risk prosecution for using them," ACLU staff attorneys Esha Bhandari and Rachel Goodman wrote.

The CFAA violates First Amendment free-speech rights "because it limits everyone, including academics and journalists, from gathering the publicly available information necessary to understand and speak about online discrimination," they added.

Some researchers want to test whether websites are more likely to show higher interest rate loan ads to racial minorities or show higher paying jobs to men searching employment listings, the ACLU said.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include two professors researching online discrimination, two more computer science professors, and First Look Media, which publishes The Intercept.

The U.S. Department of Justice didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on the lawsuit.

Subscribe here for up-to-date channel news

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

Revealed at a glitzy bash in Sydney at the Ivy Penthouse, the first StorageCraft Partner Awards locally saw the vendor honour its top-performing partners with ASI Solutions, SMBiT Pro, Webroot, ACA Pacific and Soft Solutions New Zealand taking home the top awards. Photos by Maria Stefina.

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards
Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

​Synnex and Lenovo hosted 18 resellers for an action-packed weekend adventure in RotoVegas, taking in white water rafting on the Kaituna River, as well as quad biking and dinner at Stratosfare​, overlooking Lake Rotorua at the top of Mount Ngongotaha​. Photos by Synnex.

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip
Show Comments