[Editors Note: This is one in a of series of blog posts from CDT on the Cybersecurity Act, S. 3414, a bill co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Collins that is slated to be considered on the Senate floor soon.]
Congress is about to decide whether it is a crime to violate terms of service governing your use of Gmail, Facebook, Hulu, or any other on-line service.
One of the amendments to the Cybersecurity Act that the Senate is likely to take up this week would substantially increase already severe penalties for violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), an important law designed to prevent malicious computer activity, such as hacking. The amendment would eliminate provisions setting lower sentences for first time offenders, establish mandatory minimum sentences for many offenders, make computer crimes "racketeering" predicates, and subject homes to civil asset forfeiture for computer crimes committed inside. The problem is, there is widespread agreement that the statute is already overly broad, sweeping in common online conduct, and the Department of Justice has interpreted it in a way that turns many – maybe most – Internet users into potential criminals.
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