23rd October 2014                                                                                                                                                        
Home / Top Headlines / Reading News Online A Criminal Offence?
The Departments of Justice (DOJ) of both the Bush and Obama administrations have embraced an expansive interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that would literally make it a crime for many kids to read the news online.

Reading News Online A Criminal Offence?

eff.org

During his first term, President Barack Obama declared October 2009 to be “National Information Literacy Awareness Month,” emphasizing that, for students, learning to navigate the online world is as important a skill as reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a move that echoed his predecessor’s strong support of global literacy—such as reading newspapers—most notably through First Lady Laura Bush’s advocacy.

Yet, disturbingly, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) of both the Bush and Obama administrations have embraced an expansive interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that would literally make it a crime for many kids to read the news online. And it’s the main reason why the law must be reformed.

As we’ve explained previously, in multiple cases the DOJ has taken the position that a violation of a website’s Terms of Service or an employer’s Terms of Use policy can be treated as a criminal act.

And the House Judiciary Committee has floated a proposal that makes the DOJ’s position law, making it a crime to access a website for any “impermissible purpose.”

For a number of reasons, including the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, many news sites have terms of service that prohibit minors from using their interactive services and sometimes even visiting their websites.

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