ACM's U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) on Thursday filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Van Buren v. United States, urging the court to narrowly interpret the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The case entails the prosecution of a police sergeant who allegedly accessed a state license plate database for impermissible purposes.
The USTPC brief said the high court should interpret the statute as deeming data scraping (computer scientists’ use of tools to find and amass data from online sources) a form of illegal "unauthorized access."
The USTPC suggested rendering data scraping impermissible would discourage important research and innovation.
Said ACM global Technology Policy Council chair Lorraine Kisselburgh, “Prosecutors and lawyers for large corporate interests have too often sought to use the heavy penalties connected with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as a cudgel against infractions that should be remedied with other, more appropriate statutes.” She added, “We look to the Court to properly narrow the Act.”
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