Trump-appointed SCOTUS Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch sided with some liberal justices on Thursday to reject a strange approach on how to use a 1986 computer hacking law.
The justices overruled a previous ruling against Nathan Van Buren, a police officer who was given money to perform a license plate search, an action that broke his department’s policy and, according to feds, the Computer Abuse Act.
Justice Barrett stated, in her explanation of her decision, that the police officer did not technically access data he was not entitled to see. He only abused his access to data that he was authorized to access. Therefore, the court ruled he did not violate federal law.
“This measure covers people who get information from certain areas in the computer – like files or databases – to which their access does not extend,” Barrett said. “It does not mean those who have abusive motives for getting information that is available.”
Barrett went on to warn that the government’s wide interpretation of how a person may not use a computer might have the effect of making criminals of millions of American citizens for things they do daily.
“The government’s broad interpretation of the measure would threaten criminal penalties to a shocking amount of common computer actions,” Barrett said.
“With the government’s interpretation, an employee sending a non-work related e-mail or reading the news using his or her work laptop has broken the CFAA,” Barrett said. The government’s view, she added, would then “criminalize anything including lying on an online-dating profile to attempting to use a pseudonym on Facebook.”
Author: Blake Ambrose
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