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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trolls are federal criminals now

This Court of Appeals decision should making policing the blog considerably easier for the moderators:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Facebook v. Vachani, which I flagged just last week. For those of us worried about broad readings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision is quite troubling. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization....

As I read the court’s opinion, the main issue is state of mind. Did you know that the computer owner didn’t want you to visit the website? At first, Power didn’t know Facebook’s view. But after the cease-and-desist letter, Power knew Facebook’s position. As a result, it was a federal crime to use Facebook after having received Facebook’s letter telling it to stay away. If I’m reading the opinion correctly, it appears that every contact with the computer that its owner doesn’t want is “without authorization.” The main question becomes mens rea: The visit becomes a federal crime when the visitor knows that the computer owner doesn’t want it.
Got that, everyone? If I tell you to go away, and you continue to visit or comment here, you are committing a federal crime. I'm sure the FBI doesn't have anything better to do than investigate violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, so I trust you will comply.

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70 Comments:

Blogger Robert Divinity July 13, 2016 9:08 AM  

We once used "the Internet police" as sarcasm. Let's hope the federal cops try to enforce this ruling--it may save lives they otherwise would be snuffing out.

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar July 13, 2016 9:10 AM  

Does this only apply to trolls who willfully troll? Or can unintentional visits be punishable through gross negligence? Extremely careless visits do not apply?

Anonymous Troll July 13, 2016 9:12 AM  

Got that, everyone? If I tell you to go away, and you continue to visit or comment here, you are committing a federal crime.

You have to send a C&D.

Blogger S1AL July 13, 2016 9:13 AM  

No, he didn't read it correctly. This *is* a reporter, after all.

Blogger Anchorman July 13, 2016 9:15 AM  

I can see an alternative outcome.

Sites who "opt in" to participating with this law will be asked to create a positive click page that you must additionally click to acknowledge, in order to proceed.

And, when they institute this, they will see their traffic plummet.

Blogger Rabbi B July 13, 2016 9:15 AM  

Make internet trolling great again!

Anonymous andon July 13, 2016 9:18 AM  

maybe not related but im not surprised when sites like Daily Stormer are shut down. I hear they're even going after Drudge.
The left doesn't seem to like Free Speech.

Anonymous 5343 July 13, 2016 9:18 AM  

VISIT? Really? That seems unnecessary, to say the least.

Blogger Phillip George July 13, 2016 9:19 AM  

they should cut to the chase with a
"you can't criticize the Clinton Obama dynasty law"
or an
"all conservatives are evil law"
or maybe a
"free-speech licensing act"
The "free speech licensing act of 2016" because it would generate immediate income for the federal government. And a license for media professionals entitling them to say what the government allow them to would give the experts the sort of credentialed credibility they sometimes now lack. Look how stable North Korea is. See they saw the light before anyone else.

Blogger Old Ez July 13, 2016 9:33 AM  

How can this possibly hold up though? If you can legally ban people from visiting a website (ostensibly for violations of arbitrary TOS - all TOS are legally arbitrary, right?), then why can't a brick-and-mortar establishment also establish arbitrary TOS and refuse service to X, Y or Z? Am I missing something? Or am I just lapsing back into that old bad habit of thinking we don't live under an anarcho-tyranny?

Anonymous BGKB July 13, 2016 9:34 AM  

maybe not related but im not surprised when sites like Daily Stormer are shut down. I hear they're even going after Drudge

They consider Drudge to be worse than Stormer because Drudge just links to local articles & people notice the pattern. They would rather have people out yelling niggger niggger niggger, than normies seeing patterns with links to leftist reporting of dozens of black on white crimes.

Blogger Nate July 13, 2016 9:41 AM  

the FBI? You mean the alphabet organization that hasn't actually solved an important case in 40 years?

Blogger August July 13, 2016 9:41 AM  

And yet, mysteriously, it will end up being used against us, and not pathetic leftists trolls- who often, by the way, actually look like trolls.

Blogger Stilicho July 13, 2016 9:42 AM  

Naturally, govt employees and the politically connected will be exempt from this law. It's in the penumbras somewhere.

Blogger John Williams July 13, 2016 9:49 AM  

Point out that you had no intent to troll and you won't be charged.

Blogger VD July 13, 2016 9:49 AM  

You have to send a C&D.

No, you merely need to be aware that your presence is unwanted.

Blogger Alexander July 13, 2016 9:50 AM  

You are all way too busy looking at the forest to notice the big, beautiful tree.

Yes, this law is probably, in the main, going to be shit. Impossible to enforce except when being used as a weapon by the powers that be.

But all that being said, I expect that if it backfires against lefties anywhere, it will be at Vox Popoli. Has Vox not turned the SJW rules against the SJWs, and then even as they think up a new rule does he not hang them with it once more for good measure?

Grab your popcorn, fellas, we are going to indulge in some top quality kek before too long, thanks to the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals.

Blogger Dave July 13, 2016 9:52 AM  

I'm sure the FBI doesn't have anything better to do than investigate violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Well they did just close the book on the D.B. Cooper case. Of course if they take your advise to train US state and local police departments they may have to push trollhunting to the back burner.

Anonymous andon July 13, 2016 9:54 AM  

the govt will just use this against people who's views they don't appreciate.

like that weev guy

Anonymous Be Not Afraid July 13, 2016 9:55 AM  

The law will be applied like this: Facebook bans you for BadThink. You create a new account. Facebook tells the FBI. The FBI raids your house, maybe killing you.

Blogger Phillip George July 13, 2016 9:57 AM  

new slogan today:

Racist, because the alternatives are worse.

Victimology just failed big time. Terminal case big time.

Anonymous Lasker July 13, 2016 9:59 AM  

9th circuit = most reversed court in the country.

Blogger LP9 Solidified in Gold! Rin Integra July 13, 2016 10:02 AM  

All over loser Facebook? Excellent.

Another important ruling: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-appeals-court-ruling.html?_r=1

Anonymous Elipe July 13, 2016 10:09 AM  

I liked the Internet so much more when it was just the wild west.

Now they want it to be a safe space daycare for retards.

Anonymous FrankNorman July 13, 2016 10:17 AM  

More reason to be happy to not be living in the US of A.

Anonymous Rolf July 13, 2016 10:19 AM  

@9 - bingo. You post a comment critical of the left in some way on a news board, they tell you that you can't say that, be polite, and if you follow-up they nail you. Even if you win, it's expensive.

@10 - yes, there are absolutely black-knighting opportunities. But in the name of Internet Safety (tm), all things and types of double-speak are possible, because the law doesn't get applied equally.

Anonymous JI July 13, 2016 10:21 AM  

Seems to me this is just one more example of federal control. It sounds like a familiar story - something annoying comes along and so we get the feds to pass laws and take control.

Blogger Quadko July 13, 2016 10:28 AM  

And in California you have to have written positive consent to visit someone's website.

Anonymous LawFirmer July 13, 2016 10:33 AM  

It's a Ninth Circuit decision, not a Supreme Court decision.

It only applies in AK, WA, MT, ID, CA, OR, AZ and NV.

Anonymous roughcoat July 13, 2016 10:41 AM  

Brilliant. It's like saying if you're not welcome on someone's property, simply looking at it constitutes trespassing.

Blogger Feather Blade July 13, 2016 10:43 AM  

It only applies in AK, WA, MT, ID, CA, OR, AZ and NV.

Only applies to people in those states, or only applies to websites in those states?

Anonymous Smile Of The Shadow July 13, 2016 10:45 AM  

Well shitcock. :(

Blogger The Other Robot July 13, 2016 10:52 AM  

Am I unwelcome if I ask: When are we going to see the next book from Castalia House?

Anonymous Gen. Kong July 13, 2016 10:52 AM  

I realize it's all just Dancin' with da Ghosts, but the "opposition" party in charge of congress could theoretically simply reorganize the circuits so that the blackrobed clownfarts in the ninth were all dis-employed. That particular collection of philosopher-kings could even be impeached as they've got decades worth of lawless overstepping of their authority already in writing as evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Of course the fatal flaw here assumes the existence of an actual opposition (as opposed to the usual bogus one).

All the more reason of a God-Emperor.

Anonymous andon July 13, 2016 10:55 AM  

maybe they'll make this a reason to force an internet ID on everyone

Anonymous Rawle Nyanzi July 13, 2016 10:59 AM  

Unless I explicitly state otherwise, any individual may visit my website, rawlenyanzi.com because reading a website should not be a federal crime.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 13, 2016 11:03 AM  

Any legislation intended to eliminate free speech will without any doubt be named something like, the "Internet Defense of Individual Openness and Transformative Speech" Act.

As we know, the Bank Secrecy Act eliminated banking privacy & the Patriot Act was and remains utterly unpatriotic.

Obviously Congressional Staffers who name this stuff, in partnership with NYC PR firms, have ghoulish senses of humor.

Blogger JohnR219 July 13, 2016 11:05 AM  

Kong: What a lot of people don't realize is that there is nothing magic about the number 9. If one more justice leaves, they could have a 7-justice court.

It started out as 5, then expanded to 7, and then to 9 in the 20th century.

Blogger Noah B July 13, 2016 11:05 AM  

We all need to start sending Facebook cease and desist letters demanding that they stop running javascript on our machines through third party websites to deliver ads. They'll have to comply or be in violation of the CFAA because the law applies equally to everyone, right?

Anonymous BluePony July 13, 2016 11:09 AM  

Occupy Vox Popoli!

(sets up tent)

Blogger dc.sunsets July 13, 2016 11:11 AM  

Mens Rea? It has been more than 50 years since a "guilty mind" (i.e., the knowledge of & intent to break a statute) had jack to do with being dragged through the draconian "justice system."

Applying this broadly would gut enforcement of the body of case law and regulatory morass under which we all now live. What would the people making their living in the court system do to survive if they lost their mightiest weapon to beat plea bargains & regulatory takings out of people?

Blogger pyrrhus July 13, 2016 11:12 AM  

This decision goes way too far, IMO, potentially subjecting people who are blameless to Federal harassment.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 13, 2016 11:17 AM  

And in California you have to have written positive consent to visit someone's website.

Yikes. And imagine the popups necessary to document affirmative consent if it's a porn site or cam girl.

Will all this put CA's porn websites out of business or is Yes-Means-Yes applicable to any man in CA even if he's on a Russian or Swedish VR porn site?

(Laughing heartily.)

Blogger dc.sunsets July 13, 2016 11:19 AM  

Only Badthinkers will be subject to federal harassment.

Politics as a weapon is rapidly rising in prominence.

Anonymous BluePony July 13, 2016 11:19 AM  

"Any legislation intended to eliminate free speech..."

They don't even need to do that. They just need to quietly encourage things so that a tiny number of corporations converge some asymptotically complete segment of the communication platforms. The Twitterbooks and Facechats can then silence any voice they desire.

Complaints to the government are met with "¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Private companies, man, nuthin we can do. Herpderp." Complaining to the corporations just make the Zuckerberg types buy more properties around their homes to expand their personal DMZs. Dissenting voices are reduced to shouting on streetcorners, where the cops get involved.

This is why alt-right versions of these things are important to get going, or we wind up in the Deus Ex universe.

Anonymous SciVo July 13, 2016 11:19 AM  

Quadko wrote:And in California you have to have written positive consent to visit someone's website.

Consent in California also has to be maintained, and silence doesn't count, so they have to end every comment with "Is that okay?" and a lack of response means they can be prosecuted for continuing.

Anonymous LawFirmer July 13, 2016 11:22 AM  

"Only applies to people in those states, or only applies to websites in those states?"

The Ninth Circuit ruled Facebook's TOS and rights had been violated. That's why it was adjudicated in the Ninth Circuit. The ruling applies to businesses in the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction.

Not sure how that detail applies to this blog.

Blogger Arthur Isaac July 13, 2016 11:22 AM  

Okay, well I'm leaving now...

Anonymous Beavis July 13, 2016 11:26 AM  

#AllWebsitesMatter

Blogger Cail Corishev July 13, 2016 11:31 AM  

I'd say it's not intended for actual litigation, really. Serious testing in court would expose its ridiculousness. It's intended to suppress dissenting speech in the first place. If you comment on a news site occasionally, do you always come back to see what comments followed yours, so that you would even know if the site owners told you not to come back? So what happens if you come back two weeks later and comment again without knowing? If you're a troll, you're going to know; but what if you're just someone whose opinion differs from the owners and you don't realize how touchy they are?

So it'll be safer just not to express heterodox views in "public," which will help to confine them to fringe sites. The hope is that it'll cut down on dissenters commenting so much at major media sites like the NY Times, where they've become a real pain, sometimes causing left-wing sites to shut comments down altogether.

Blogger Arthur Isaac July 13, 2016 11:34 AM  

A new form of T. Gondii known to affect humans has been identified: News at 11:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/07/12/white-woman-walks-in-black-neighborhood-im-sorry-black-america/

Blogger Noah B July 13, 2016 11:35 AM  

Twitter has started relaying demands from the French government to outspoken #Altright leaders to delete antisemitic posts. @Bidenshairplugs and @TGSNTtv have both gotten them, and there are probably more.

Anonymous Northern Observer July 13, 2016 11:48 AM  

"Power knew Facebook’s position. As a result, it was a federal crime to use Facebook after having received Facebook’s letter telling it to stay away."

In your case though, wouldn't Blogspot need to tell the troll to stay away? i.e. it's not your computers that the troll is accessing, it's Blogspot's.

Blogger Were-Puppy July 13, 2016 12:26 PM  

Throw this into the mix:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/07/13/pamela-geller-suing-facebook/

Blogger lowercaseb July 13, 2016 12:31 PM  

dc.sunsets wrote:And in California you have to have written positive consent to visit someone's website.

Yikes. And imagine the popups necessary to document affirmative consent if it's a porn site or cam girl.


"I am going to stroke it a third time. If that is OK with you please click YES on the voting button on your screen."

Blogger James Dixon July 13, 2016 12:51 PM  

> Does this only apply to trolls who willfully troll? Or can unintentional visits be punishable through gross negligence? Extremely careless visits do not apply?

Vox isn't going to go after anyone who merely reads his site. Only those who post. By definition that's a willful act.

> VISIT? Really? That seems unnecessary, to say the least.

See above.

> ...then why can't a brick-and-mortar establishment also establish arbitrary TOS and refuse service to X, Y or Z?

In general, they can. They can't violate existing law while doing so (discrimination, etc.).

> It only applies in AK, WA, MT, ID, CA, OR, AZ and NV.

And do you know which state the server Google is using is in?

> We all need to start sending Facebook cease and desist letters demanding that they stop running javascript on our machines through third party websites to deliver ads. They'll have to comply or be in violation of the CFAA because the law applies equally to everyone, right?

In theory, yes. in practice....

> In your case though, wouldn't Blogspot need to tell the troll to stay away? i.e. it's not your computers that the troll is accessing, it's Blogspot's.


It's his site. That's enough. He's effectively renting the server from Google.

Anonymous Crooked Hillary July 13, 2016 1:07 PM  

Wait, your'e telling me this is a federal crime and the FBI will come after me if I troll you?

Do you know who you are talking to here?

Blogger Doom July 13, 2016 1:18 PM  

I don't think that is going to work out quite as they had hoped. And, yet? Man, I ask folk... when having a problem... if they want me to go. I give them easy outs. And, if asked, I would leave and not return. I don't think the left can even do that. None of them. Obsessive like children.

That puts in place some serious safeguards against the left. And, you know who will be filing complaints, after visiting, after having been sent away and still coming back? Oh... Though the FBI can't even deal with real bombers. Then again, this would be a way to put a bunch of women to work. It's something they can, mostly, do. Brand new .gov job stream for otherwise paper-pushers!

Blogger Zeroh Tollrants July 13, 2016 1:22 PM  

"Mens Rea?" Sounds super duper sexist & stuff.

They don't call it the "9th Circus Ct," for nothin'.

Blogger Lee Katt July 13, 2016 2:19 PM  

Perhaps not as broad as it sounds. This was a commercial case, involving a third-party company adding services to Facebook. I doubt that a simple "get thee hence" is enough on a blog. But you never know, these days ...

Blogger James Dixon July 13, 2016 2:28 PM  

> I doubt that a simple "get thee hence" is enough on a blog. But you never know, these days ...

The reading of the relevant law is fairly clear. Any unauthorized access to anyone's computer is illegal. Now, a webpage/blog is by definition (though perhaps not legally, to my knowledge that's never been tested) an invitation for anyone to read/comment as long as they agree to the terms of service (whether the terms of service can actually bind someone who merely reads the site is an open question, again it's never been tested that I know of). A formal revocation of that invitation is all that's required for someone to be acting illegally.

Anonymous I Am Irony, Man July 13, 2016 2:41 PM  

"All law enforcement personnel are hereby expressly forbidden from accessing this website in any manner whatsoever, in either an official or unofficial capacity, under the terms of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act."

Anonymous WLW July 13, 2016 4:58 PM  

I didn't know--I'm going to jail as a federal criminal--wow.

Anonymous kjj July 13, 2016 5:25 PM  

Wait, Facebook?

Facebook's Like button has made it essentially impossible for people to use the web without hitting their servers. How do they reconcile that?

Anonymous Gen. Kong July 13, 2016 5:51 PM  

WLW:
I didn't know--I'm going to jail as a federal criminal--wow.

Maybe you can take up your old gig of Shabbas-Goy for Bernie Made-off in Club Fed's fine facilities…..

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 13, 2016 6:30 PM  

Federal crime? Weaksauce, back in my day we did executions for every crime because, technically speaking, executions are totally badass.

Blogger Michael Deloatch July 13, 2016 8:17 PM  

@ # 20 "Facebook will tell the FBI..."

And here I thought the FBI and CIA still weren't speaking to one another...

Blogger LP9 Solidified in Gold! Rin Integra July 13, 2016 9:32 PM  

Is this is another baby boomer phen. transfer to again another mil'len phenomena of control...

Many people will do without the internet and still refuse to have phones, tough costly times.

Anonymous John Steed July 13, 2016 11:12 PM  

@24. On one hand I miss the wild, wild interwebs of the `90s. But on the other hand I don`t miss the viruses, malware and 12 yo hackers either. BTW, I`m moving to the boonies in about a week well past even cell service. Peace and Quiet. You`ll see me here maybe once a week.

Blogger weka July 14, 2016 1:07 AM  

The law will be applied like this: Facebook bans you for BadThink. You create a new account. Facebook tells the FBI. The FBI raids your house, maybe killing you.

This is the bunch who cannot read NZ law well enough to extradite Kim DotCom, that ur-leftist troll.

The ninth circuit's laws apply to Iran, do they? Or Italy? Or NZ? I think not.

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