Monday, September 13, 2010

Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

If you believe some people, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are complete polar opposites, with one intent on destroying society as we know it and the other protecting us from the threat levied by the first one.

But according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they have one thing in common, at least as far as Facebook is concerned. The EFF links to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which (as of August 25) included this provision (sub-item 8 under item 4):

You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.

Now as far as Facebook is concerned, this not only applies to real people (such as a Palin or Obama staffer), but also bots. And as far as Facebook is concerned, that's a violation of Federal law:

But violating a website's terms of use is a big deal, according to Facebook. In fact, Facebook says it's a federal crime.

In Facebook v. Power Ventures, Facebook has sued a service that lets social network users view all their information from various social networking sites on one page. Like the way Sarah Palin's ghostwriter accesses Sarah's account, Power's service uses your password to access your account, with your permission. Facebook claims that this violates its terms of use, and any act that violates its terms of use is a violation of computer intrusion laws such as the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits intentionally accessing certain computers without authorization or in excess of authorization. Violations of this law are punishable by both civil and criminal penalties.

And a Harvard law web site speculates that Facebook may claim that it has to prevent Power Ventures from accessing its data. Why? To protect our privacy.

[U]sers are very concerned about their privacy and Facebook has faced vocal criticism in the past whenever it instituted policies that users felt were threatening (e.g. Facebook Beacon). It would be even more difficult for Facebook to protect its users’ privacy if the data was shared with third-parties.

Quite literally, a tangled web - kinda like when John Fogerty was sued for writing songs that sound like John Fogerty songs.
blog comments powered by Disqus