Congress Could Make Facebooking at Work a Felony

Rebecca Greenfield
The Atlantic Wire
Sep. 15, 2011

"Imagine that President Obama could order the arrest of anyone who broke a promise on the Internet." That's what The Wall Street Journal's Orin Kerr thinks the latest cyber-security legislation will lead to: An assault on checking Facebook at work. Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which would seek tougher sentences for digital offenses. As more of the world moves online, so has crime. And legislation needs to adapt. But, does the latest updates to the bill target the right cyber criminals?

No, regular folk are in danger. The way the law is worded, it makes violating a terms of service agreement a felony. "The problem is that a lot of routine computer use can exceed 'authorized access,'" explains Kerr. That means that if your employer prohibits Facebooking on the job and you sneak a peak at a tagged photo, you could face penalties. Senators Patrick Patrick Leahy and Al Franken expressed similar concerns about the proposal, suggesting the administration may be expanding the definition too much, reports eWeek. "We want you to concentrate on the real cyber-crimes, and not the minor things."

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