Violating Terms of Service Possibly a Crime
From Wired News:
The four Wiseguy defendants, who also operated other ticket-reselling businesses, allegedly used sophisticated programming and inside information to bypass technological measures—including CAPTCHA—at Ticketmaster and other sites that were intended to prevent such bulk automated purchases. This violated the sites’ terms of service, and according to prosecutors constituted unauthorized computer access under the anti-hacking Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA.
But the government’s interpretation of the law goes too far, according to the policy groups, and threatens to turn what is essentially a contractual dispute into a criminal case. As in the Lori Drew prosecution last year, the case marks a dangerous precedent that could make a felon of anyone who violates a site’s terms-of-service agreement, according to the amicus brief filed last week by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and other advocates.
“Under the government’s theory, anyone who disregards—or doesn’t read—the terms of service on any website could face computer crime charges,” said EFF civil liberties director Jennifer Granick in a press release. “Price-comparison services, social network aggregators, and users who skim a few years off their ages could all be criminals if the government prevails.”