By Amela Zukic
You can relax for now. Sharing your Netflix password probably won’t get you in trouble anytime soon. Though you may have had some anxiety this past summer following the Ninth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Nosal, in which the appellate court, in a 2-1 decision, held that the sharing of passwords could be found to be a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Social media went into frenzy over the possible implications of its decision regarding the legality of sharing Netflix passwords. While this decision is unlikely to have an immediate effect on users of streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, etc., the long-term repercussions remain unclear.
The CFAA, also known as the “worst law in technology,” renders unauthorized access of computers a federal crime. Under the CFAA, anyone who, “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization” can be convicted. Yet, “unauthorized access” is not defined within the scope of the CFAA. This, therefore, leaves judges with the utmost discretion when interpreting the meaning of “unauthorized access.” The CFAA was initially drafted to criminalize the activities of hackers, but it is now increasingly being used to criminalize activities the public would consider normal – such as password sharing.
By Sam Hampton
Congratulations—you just hit a $5000 jackpot on a slot machine! Would you be more likely to report this income on your 1040 (as you should) if you knew the casino would report the winnings to the IRS? Would you be more likely to report a cash tip income if you found out that a waiter had been prosecuted for tax fraud for failure to report his tips? A recent New York Times article suggests that taxpayers are much more likely to report in either of these situations—and modern information technology provides new avenues for both auditing and monitoring taxpayers. Continue reading
By Carlie Bacon
The technological age has transformed the once-useful volumes lining the walls of law firms and libraries into decorative dust-collectors. Just like this blog post, the information in those books can be accessed from anywhere that you can check your email. Law is widely regarded as a conservative profession, but even so, modern attorneys and law students conduct legal research online. Why turn page after page at a desk somewhere, when you can scroll through seamless documents from the comfort of, well, anywhere?
Companies like Westlaw and LexisNexis offer access to enormous electronic databases and handy research tools, but at a cost. Subscription fees can total millions of dollars annually for large firms. Like those shelves full of books, commercial databases’ days may be numbered too. Continue reading