Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Continued Quest by Corporations to Criminalize Behavior They Do not Like

Soon after posting "Federal Rules on Campus File Sharing Kick in Today" I ran across the posting on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Ticketmaster's Terms of Service Cannot Make You a Criminal". The link between the two posts is the continued erosion of personal liberties through the criminalization of activities deemed inappropriate by various corporate interests. In theory we are a free market economy, I guess not. It's unfortunate that the government seems to acquiesce to the corporate demands for ever greater criminalization.

In its posting on Ticketmaster the EFF writes: "The four defendants in this case are the operators of Wiseguys Tickets, Inc., a ticket-reselling service. In its indictment, the government claims the four purchased tickets from Ticketmaster by automated means, violating Ticketmaster's terms of service and therefore the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)." (emphasis added). "... under the government's theory, websites could put the power of criminal law behind their own terms of service to create severe obstacles for their competitors," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.

Besides the obvious injustice of corporations attempting criminalize unappreciated behavior there is the little fact that virtually every terms-of-service "contract" on the internet is subject to change without notice. A partial quote of Ticketmaster terms-of-service from the EFF Amicus Brief, "By accessing, browsing, or using this website, you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and agree to be bound by these Terms. We may update these Terms at any time, without notice to you. Each time you access this website, you agree to be bound by the Terms then in effect." Great loophole for retroactively deciding to define something criminal after-the-fact.

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