In 2009 and earlier, I blogged a few times about the Lori Drew case, in which a woman was prosecuted under federal hacking laws for violating MySpace’s terms of service. I drafted but never posted a follow-up of the US government’s continuing to pursue that legal interpretation in an even stronger form: “exceeding authorized access” (federal hacking felony) includes violating your access privileges in any way. That includes checking the news/weather at work when the office policy says, “no personal internet use.” That includes swearing in World of Warcraft or violating the ToS in any game. And that argument is winning. Granted, Ninth Circuit; granted, divided; but this is one of the most powerful enablings of selective prosecution you are likely to see this month.
A legal interpretation holding that checking the weather is a federal felony is clearly insane, but it is not clearly wrong. It is not even necessarily an unfair reading of the plain wording of the statute.