Did the mathematician who hacked OKCupid violate federal computer laws?
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
McKinlay may have run afoul of one of the shabbiest laws in existence: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) — the same law that Federal prosecutors used to pressure Aaron Swartz.
CFAA makes it a crime to access a computer without authorization, a catchall chunk of poorly conceived legislation that has been ripe for abuse. For example, there’s the case of Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, who, as a member of a hacker group called “Goatse Security” in June 2010, scraped AT&T’s website for the email addresses of iPad users then shared the file with Gawker to show the porousness of the telecommunication company’s security. No money changed hands. He didn’t break into AT&T’s computer network or cause any damage. He simply created an automated script to vacuum up information off a publicly available webpage. After being found guiltyAuernheimer was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and forced to pay $73,000 in restitution to AT&T, which had to plug the security hole.
Let’s hope OKCupid has a better sense of humor than AT&T.