07-18-2016, 05:05 PM
Jail for Sharing Your Netflix Password?
Understanding the Law That Could Make it a Federal Crime
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
It’s become so common that it’s almost a joke. One person has a Netflix account and three other people are using it. A recent court ruling found that because of a law called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), using someone else’s password could be considered a federal crime with an extremely harsh punishment. Someone who violates the CFAA can face decades in prison and large fines.
“The CFAA was intended to be an anti-hacking statute. It should be targeting the circumvention of technological access barriers—people breaking into computers—and the law is so vague and so confusing that it’s gone really far beyond that,” Jamie Lee Williams, a legal fellow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Salon.
The case is called United States v. Nosal. David Nosal was a former recruiter with an executive search firm when he at one point decided to use a former coworker’s password to get into the firm’s database. That might seem innocent enough, but the prosecution is using the CFAA to allege that Nosal’s use of the password was unauthorized and thus a crime. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found it was indeed a violation of the CFAA.