Posted on April 9, 2013 2:45 pm

New CFAA Could Subject Teens To Jail For Reading Online News

from the literal-reading-for-literally-reading dept.

Anyone under 18 found reading the news online could hypothetically face jail time according to the latest draft of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is said to be ‘rushed’ to Congress during its ‘cyber week’ in the middle of April. According to the new proposal floated by the House Judiciary Committee, the CFAA would be amended to treat any violation of a website’s Terms of Service – or an employer’s Terms of Use policy – as a criminal act. Applied to the world of online publications, this could be a dangerous notion: For example, many news websites’ Terms of Use warn against any users under a certain age to use their site. In fact, NPR and the Hearst Corporation’s entire family of publications, which includes Popular Mechanics, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle, all disallow readers under 18 from using their ‘services.’ According to the DOJ, this would mean anyone under 18 found accessing these sites — even just to read or comment on a story — could face criminal charges.