Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Terms of Service" violations do not make for criminal offenses; look at EFF's Coders' Rights Project

Matt Zimmerman of Electronic Frontier Foundation is reporting that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has thrown out a warrant claiming “probable cause” for Riccardo Calixte’s alleged “criminal” “hacking” activity merely for violating the “terms of service: for Boston College.

While the defendant’s conduct may be objectionable (and perhaps very “politically incorrect” according to today’s norms), that alone does not mean that he can be pursued for a crime, according to a careful reading of the law. The link for the story is here.

The case has some psychological importance to the “Myspace case” where a Missouri woman (Lori Drew) will (or may) be sentenced in California for “defrauding Myspace” in what seems like a “creative” reading of the law to prosecute for behavior that seems morally reprehensible but that may not be illegal.

Visitors will also want to visit EFF’s “Coders’ Rights Project” There are FAQ lists for Reverse Engineering, Vulnerability Reporting, and the “Grey Hat Problem” where a coder accidentally breaks a rule and discovers a weakness. The link is here. These are detailed and require careful study and may be discussed more later.

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