Narrow Interpretation of Computer Fraud Law Would Have Chilling Effect
Participated in an amicus brief (with the Reporters Committee and other amici) filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corporation. The brief addresses whether “scraping” a public website for data violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The panel in this case previously concluded that such scraping likely does not violate the CFAA, even where a website has ordered the party engaged in scraping to stop. After the Supreme Court issued its decision construing the CFAA in Van Buren v. United States, the Court vacated and remanded hiQ for reconsideration in light of that opinion. This amicus brief highlights the role that scraping plays in contemporary data journalism and argues that interpreting the CFAA to forbid gathering public information (with or without a cease-and-desist letter) would have a chilling effect on First Amendment activity.