Federal Computer Hacking Statute Should Be Construed Narrowly
Participated in an amicus brief (with the Reporters Committee and other amici) filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Van Buren v. United States. This is the first time the Supreme Court has considered the appropriate scope of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). In this case, a police officer in Georgia allegedly accepted payment to illegally access a state criminal database he was authorized to access. The only question is whether the federal hacking statute applies when one hasn’t actually “hacked.” The Eleventh Circuit adopted an expansive construction of that statute, concluding that it applied to the officer’s conduct. The case is relevant for journalists because the expansive construction threatens to chill First Amendment activity. The brief argues that the Court should construe the CFAA narrowly to avoid constitutional concerns.