April 16, 2012 3:00:21 PM by
My new research assistant Zachary Bloom and I recently co-authored a piece in Forbes.com in which we discuss the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in favor of a narrow interpretation of a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA is a vague, dangerous statute that is open to a wide number of readings. The Department of Justice's broad understanding of the law would criminalize much of the everday online activity of nearly every American. Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit did not see the merits of such a reading, and has limited its interpretation of the law to criminalize only the act of hacking into a computer system. This ruling is a positive step forward. But as we point out, the circuit courts are now in disagreement over the meaning of the CFAA, and the final outcome of the controversy will affect all of our lives.