Supreme Court Issues Radical New Reading of Anti-Hacking Law | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Supreme Court Issues Radical New Reading of Anti-Hacking Law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday said a Georgia police officer had not violated the country’s main anti-hacking law by improperly accessing a government database for financial gain, a decision likely to curtail prosecutions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of individuals who misuse computer systems to which they have legal access.

The police officer, Nathan Van Buren, was arrested and charged under the 1986 law after accepting payment from an FBI informant to search a law enforcement database of license plate information. The government charged Van Buren with violating the CFAA, which prohibits people from knowingly “exceeding” their “authorized access” to a computer system.

The ruling is widely viewed as a win for criminal defense lawyers who’ve long criticized the statute as overly ambiguous and who’ve accused prosecutors of employing an overly expansive interpretation. The government has previously brought charges under the CFAA against people accused of violating corporate computer policies and website terms of service.

The ruling is “an important victory for civil liberties and civil rights enforcement in the digital age,” the American Civil Liberties Union said.