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Supreme Court Rules Officer’s Improper Access to License Plate Record Does Not Violate Computer Crimes Law

EPIC Amicus Filing Van Buren

Supreme Court Rules Officer’s Improper Access to License Plate Record Does Not Break Computer System Crimes Law

In today’s choice in Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court identified that a policeman who improperly accessed a license plate record might not be held responsible under a federal computer crimes law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. EPIC highlighted the serious privacy concerns with civil servant’ improper access to delicate personal information in federal government databases in the amicus brief we filed in this case, and numerous justices echoes these concerns during oral argument. The outcome of this case highlights the immediate requirement for comprehensive privacy legislation. We require enforceable guidelines to prevent incorrect access to and misuse of individual info contained in both government and private databases.

The Court likewise did not resolve what it indicates for someone to have “authorization” to access a computer or to be “entitled” to access details in the computer. The Court backed a general “gates-up-or-down approach”– indicating a private either has authorization to access the computer system or specific info within the computer or it does not– however explicitly exposed the concern whether the restrictions on gain access to must be technical or whether they can be contract-based. The variety of criminalized activities may, in some aspects, still be much broader than even the Federal government was promoting. Certain site regards to service that prohibit specific people or groups from accessing the website may still be enforceable even if the people have no knowledge of the restrictions and the website owners do nothing else to limit gain access to. An 18 year-old who accesses a website limited to those over the age of 21 may breach the CFAA, but a law enforcement officer who purposefully accesses individual details to stalk and bother the person does not.

The Court also did not clearly respond to more complex gain access to concerns about web scraping, and the Court must give the pending petition in LinkedIn v. hiQ Labs to fix these concerns. Web scraping involves accessing a computer system utilizing a technical approach that is frequently forbidden by a website’s regards to service and also obstructed using technical barriers. LEGENDARY submitted an amicus quick in support of the petition.

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