How the CFAA Works
Types of Offenses (7 Prohibitions)
There are seven types of criminal activity enumerated in the CFAA: obtaining national security information, compromising confidentiality, trespassing in a government computer, accessing to defraud and obtain value, damaging a computer or information, trafficking in passwords, and threatening to damage a computer. Attempts to commit these crimes are also criminally punishable.
Protected Computer the term “protected computer” means a computer
(1) exclusively for the use of a financial institution or the United States Government, or, in the case of a computer not exclusively for such use, used by or for a financial institution or the United States Government and the conduct constituting the offense affects that use by or for the financial institution or the Government; or
(2) which is used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication, including a computer located outside the United States that is used in a manner that affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication of the United States.
18 U.S.C. § 1030
In MBTA v. Anderson, No. 08-11364, (D. Mass. filed Aug. 19, 2008), Plaintiff claimed that defendants violated or threatened to violate the CFAA by releasing the findings of their research regarding the security holes associated with the MBTA fare charging system. The court found that a violation of the CFAA only occurs if the person knowingly causes the transmission of programmed information to a protected computer. Because the defendants in this case were only seeking to transmit information to a non-computer audience, the court found that the MBTA was not likely to succeed on a claim under the CFAA.
The part about “financial institution” has me rather worried… I’m no expert at law, but I’m pretty sure this means business owned or corporate computers are protected under the same rights as those necessary to national defense, which is extremely worrisome.
Although intruding upon or damaging a business’s computer is still a crime, I don’t feel like that repercussions should be so severe.
My other worry is later on, where “damage of reputation or goodwill” is labeled. The ability to find and bring to light injustices within our government was not only among the founding ideas of our nation, but the age that followed.