Washington Law Review

Comment

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Enforcement: Cruel, Unusual, and Due for Reform

December 21, 2016 | 91 Wash. L. Rev. 1813

Abstract: This Comment argues that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) uses an outdated concept of technology in everyday activities that can lead to unexpected and grossly disproportional federal criminal charges. The CFAA’s vague definitions passively provide broad prosecutorial discretion that may turn millions of everyday internet users into criminals, even in cases of a common breach of an online terms-of-service agreement. Congress should look to the Eighth Amendment and draw from its principles in reforming the CFAA. The Comment concludes with a proposed interpretation of the CFAA that would better align the statute with other criminal laws, namely trespass. Courts should require the owners of protected computers to give notice to a user before that user can be found to violate the CFAA based on unauthorized access.

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