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In the USA this would be a violation of the CFAA https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030. Specifically, the router is a "protected computer" and the procedure described here is "exceeding authorised access" because it routes packets around a mechanism that was designed to stop them. Maximum penalty 5 years.

(Some might argue that it was authorised because the computer let him do it. However the CFAA simply doesn't work that way. "Authorisation" is what the designers intended, and the initial paywall made that intention perfectly clear.)




How does this not apply to stuff like trackers bypassing anti-fingerprinting browser protections?


Because a prosecutor hasn't tried to use it in that way.


Which highlights a fundamental truth to law - it's only enforced to backstop the status quo. Routing around a wifi paywall rocks the boat, performing invasive surveillance on website visitors doesn't.

So practically yes, let's be aware that the author could indeed be persecuted under the CFAA. But let's not grandstand and pretend that following that law is some sort of moral imperative that benefits everyone. The common individual will be the target of the same attacks with or without that law.


Following the law may not be a moral imperative, but let's not pretend like the author did anything moral here. He knowingly and with intent stole services from the airline. It not only was illegal, it's blatantly immoral.


The thing about morals is that we can disagree. Just because this scenario fits your definition of "stole" does not mean it fits mine.

My perspective is that a fundamental aspect of the Internet and the digital world is that the software-codified rules are basically authoritative. While constructive behavior still does matter - eg knowingly turning off a hospital ventilator is still murder - the only gain here was temporarily obtaining some transit. The real remedy is for the provider to fix their systems.


> My perspective is that a fundamental aspect of the Internet and the digital world is that the software-codified rules are basically authoritative.

Do you think that hacking per se is ever immoral?


I suspect you're still associating hacking with other actions that can be facilitated by hacking. But the very next thing I wrote was "knowingly turning off a hospital ventilator is still murder", so it only makes sense to answer as if you strongly intend the "per se".

In isolation, why would finding a hole in someone else's ruleset be immoral? If hacking per se were immoral, then there could be no such thing as a "white hat".


> I suspect you're still associating hacking with other actions that can be facilitated by hacking.

I specifically wrote "per se", so no - I'm not.

> If hacking per se were immoral, then there could be no such thing as a "white hat".

White hat hacking it typically specifically authorized (e.g. red teams). That is not the case with the example from the article.

In the locksport community there is a pretty strong norm to only pick locks you own or have specific authorization to pick.

Computer security not the same thing, but it's also not that different.


> White hat hacking [is] typically specifically authorized (e.g. red teams)

That is merely one kind of white hat hacking. Another kind would be figuring out an exploit for software that you have a local copy of, even against the wishes of its developer. If we agree that this is moral, then general finding of holes itself cannot be immoral.

I don't think you mean to imply that in locksport, you only pick models of locks that the manufacturer has given you the go-ahead to attack. Rather you're referring to ownership of the physical lock itself, which is merely one type of authorization. I would also guess that the reason the community repeats this prominently is to head off legal entanglement.

To the extent that a given ruleset only exists on a specific device that one does not own, then it is indeed hard to find holes in it without also affecting that device itself. However, it is still important to draw the distinction between any effects and the logical hacking itself, lest minor effects end up being persecuted inequitably.

In the context of the original article, there are essentially no damages and a little bit of unjust enrichment. Yet this whole thread has blown up about a spectre of harsh punishment under the CFAA, when equity is closer to the amount of the access fee.


It’s also immoral to force bad pricing down customer throats. And yet that is the definition of the inflight wifi business.

EDIT: I’m fairly sure at current prices a single flight could pay for a month’s service for a single plane, probably several times over. The profit margins (& I imagine some the cut to the airline) must be enormous, & there is no pretense of fair terms at sale time because a single corporation can entirely monopolize your attention.


> It’s also immoral to force bad pricing down customer throats. And yet that is the definition of the inflight wifi business.

In what bizarro world are people being forced to buy inflight wifi?


The profit margin for luxury addons is always insane. That doesn't make them unethical. In fact, there's a very good argument to be made that luxury pricing is positively ethical, as it allows the base experience to be offered for a lower price to more price-sensitive customers.


> In fact, there's a very good argument to be made that luxury pricing is positively ethical, as it allows the base experience to be offered for a lower price to more price-sensitive customers.

How come that isn't happening here?

Anyway, it's a commodity. The positioning of it as a luxury service amounts to theft.


His attack is active, privacy plugins are passive, even if they report back false fingerprints.

Offense versus defense.


Not sure if the attack is active. He’s not actively talking to the filtering equipment to try and mess up its configuration or disable it. He’s just sending out packets hoping to reach the internet (a perfectly valid thing to do considering the system is designed to let you access the internet). It just so happens that certain packets manage to slip through the poorly designed filter.


How is this different from trying a door handle to see if it's open.


In this case the “door handle” is marked with “pull to access the internet”, and he is pulling on it. The handle is supposed to have a mechanism to demand payment before opening but in this case it failed and opened right away.

Not saying this is ethical (although selling WiFi for 12$ per hour isn’t either) but I wouldn’t go as far as calling this an attack.


>although selling WiFi for 12$ per hour isn’t either

Care to elaborate on this? WiFi on a plane isn’t any kind of thing people are dependent on to survive and satellites are pretty expensive. Airplane WiFi is entirely a luxury good.

Do you feel that charging $12 to watch a movie in a theatre is unethical as well? How about $150k for a Porsche?


The problem is airplane WiFi has a captive audience with no competition so they can charge unfair rates and there is no free market to balance it.


So if you go to the top of a mountain and there is a single cabin selling water there, at outrageous prices, you would just help yourself to one bottle, because hey, no competition, captive audience.


The problem is that it’s $12 for an hour, regardless of whether you end up using it, or whether it works at all (do you get a guaranteed bandwidth along with that, and is there some BS filter that’s gonna interfere with certain sites or protocols despite you having paid?).

Finally it’s just way too expensive at that price.


You could say the same about adblock then, so lets not open that can of worms


Is it though? The adblocker runs locally on your own computer; it certainly prevents the ads from doing what the designer intended, but it doesn't make the designer's computer (or any computer controlled by the ad network) do anything.

Versus tracking does actually do something on your computer (e.g. running JS to discover fonts). Arguably that is a circumvention of the intentions of the user on their own hardware.


The problem is that the phrase "exceeds authorized access" does not distinguish between the access increasing beyond the authorization and the authorization decreasing below the current access. Suppose I put in my Terms of Service the phrase "Access to this system is contingent on running the delivered webpage, including all first-party and third-party Javascript, without modification." Now, whether or not the HTTP request to the server is authorized depends on what you do with the payload.

This is why the CFAA is such a horribly written law. It takes the ToS, something that should be squarely under civil law, and elevates them to being a felony under federal law.


Some adblockers work outside the browser. They block the hosts with custom /etc/hosts or by using a local proxy that filters out requests to ad servers.

All the js code runs but it doesn't download anything.

Obviously the Terms of Service could prohibit that too.


> Access to this system is contingent on running the delivered webpage, including all first-party and third-party Javascript, without modification.

Refusing to fetch a particular resource would be non-access. You cannot punish non-access as unauthorised access, because no such crime of non-access exists.


I am very confused as to what you're trying to say with this.


What about the reverse of that. When I load a website, I expect it to load the normal information of the page in question (for an article about something, that article). I do _not_ want or grant permission for it to display ads. As such, their host sending ads to my machine is "exceeding authorized access".

I'm curious if it would be feasible to sue a company over sending ads. They have just as much information about what you want displayed on your computer as you have about how they want you to use their apis.


You can't look at the legality of it from the point of what the adblocker does. Software doesn't commit crimes; people do.

The possible crime (if it is one) would be if you know your browser has adblock, you know authorization to use their server is conditional on not using adblock, and you choose to access it anyway.


> you know your browser has adblock, you know authorization to use their server is conditional on not using adblock, and you choose to access it anyway

Meanwhile the website publisher knows that authorization to run javascript may not include performing surveillance, yet includes circumvention code to perform surveillance anyway. So everybody is violating the law, which is why the CFAA is terrible legislation - it relies completely on selective persecution.

Pontificating about abstract "intent" is not actually useful in the digital realm. Protocols [0] are what ultimately mediate between parties with different desires. The CFAA is merely a relic that gets invoked when some powerful entity gets upset at the outcome of a protocol.

[0] to be clear, I'm talking about de facto protocols as executed, not de jure protocols as written into RFC.


This is an extremely naïve, baseless argument- if you could even call it an argument at all.

So let us turn to the ‘proposed’ argument itself: “Software doesn’t commit crimes; people do” The first thing to notice is that the argument has no stated conclusion. What follows? That there should be no software regulation at all? That there should not be any more software regulation than there already is? That the increase in cybercrimes done with ‘software’ is irrelevant to whether or not there should be cyber regulations? Who knows? An argument without a conclusion is by technical basis, not an argument at all.

The statement under consideration clarifies that, when it comes to crimes committed with software , people are the ultimate cause and software is merely a proximate cause—the end of a causal chain that started with a person deciding to commit cyber crimes. But nothing follows from these facts about whether or not software should be regulated. Such facts are true for all criminal activity, and even noncriminal activity that harms others: The ultimate cause is found in some decision that a person made; the event, activity, or object that most directly did the harming was only a proximate cause. But this tells us nothing about whether or not the proximate cause in question should be regulated or made illegal. For example, consider the following argument:

"Bazookas don't kill people; people kill people."

Although it is obviously true that bazookas are only proximate causes, it clearly does not follow that bazookas should be legal. Yes, bazookas don't kill people, people do—but bazookas make it a lot easier for people to kill people, and in great numbers. Further, a bazooka would not be useful for much else besides mass murders. Bazookas clearly should be illegal and the fact that they would only be proximate causes to mass murders does not change this. In fact, it is totally irrelevant to the issue; it has nothing to do the fact that they should be illegal. Why? Because other things are proximate causes to people’s demise, but obviously shouldn’t be illegal. For example, consider this argument (given in the aftermath of a bad car accident):

"Cars don't kill people; people kill people."

Obviously cars should not be illegal, but notice that this has nothing to do with the fact that they are proximate causes. Of course, they should be regulated; I shouldn't be allowed to go onto the highway in a car with no brakes. But all of that has to do what cars are for (they are not made for killing people), what role they play in society (it couldn't function without them) and so on. It's a complicated issue—one to which pointing out that cars are merely proximate causes to some deaths contributes nothing.

In conclusion- people who make the feeble argument “software doesn’t commit crime; people do” have mistaken the relevance of proximate causation


You have missed the point of my comment. It isn't about what the law should be. Instead, I was discussing whether it is currently legal to use adblock.

As I interpreted it, someone said adblock may be illegal under existing law because you are accessing a server without authorization. Someone else seems to have argued that this isn't true because adblock doesn't cause anything to happen on the server; therefore, adblock must be legal because adblock only affects the client.

My comment was that this reasoning doesn't hold water. Perhaps the owner states that authorization is only granted to people who don't use adblock. (Maybe there's a splash page that informs the user they aren't authorized to proceed to the next page if they have adblock enabled.) What matters is the choices people make, not that the behavior of the software avoids interacting with the server. Your hands are not clean just because your software doesn't take an action.


You're accessing the other sites computer in a way they did not intend, which is with adblock.


If they track me they are accessing my computer in a way I did not intend. I even provided them with a DNT header to make my wishes clear.


Not a lawyer, but you could argue that he wasn't really accessing the router, he was accessing his own server at home.


He was accessing the router by sending packets through it. Authorisation to do this was only granted in return for payment, and he hadn't paid.


From your link:

> the term “exceeds authorized access” means to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter;

The information they were accessing didn't come from the computer. And this doesn't say anything about using a computer service in an unauthorized way, which is what it sounds like you're describing here


The output buffer on the Internet side of the router is information in the computer. It was modified without authorization when packets were sent through it.


Not really. If the plane has open Wlan or a well-known password (ie in the info stuff) then all you need to is connect. No further authorization needed. There is simply no need to open a browser.


These sorts of technicalities don't play well with juries, but neither do large airlines or ~phone companies charging $15 for two hours of 1Mbps internet.


IMHE Judges don't have much of an appreciation for clever circumvention of the law.


How about a plausible interpretation of the law?


I think some refer to this as 'case law'

</legal_humor>


It is computer abuse as he continued doing it repeatedly and looked up for different workarounds, after getting an unauthorised way to access. A more severe offense than simple unauthorised access.


Wouldn't this be excluded anyway since the only thing "fraudulently obtained" was "use of the computer or system" worth less than $1,000 per year?

Even if that language weren't in 18 USC 1030(a)(4), the guidelines sentence assuming no priors would look to be 0-6 months and $250-$5000 fine, assuming you couldn't plea out to something less. I doubt the federal authorities are even going to waste their time looking at $12 of "fraudulent access" that will likely lead to almost no jail time.


It depends on whether someone wants to make something of it. The costs taken into account by the CFAA include the costs of investigating the incident and repairing any damage, and courts in the past have tended to accept pretty much any assertions about these costs. They probably wouldn't blink if the entire cost of fixing the exploit were attributed to the OP.


Criminally charging someone under the CFAA for what is essentially a TOS violation has come under fire before, and frankly I don't think many prosecutors want to be the one to get that legal theory thrown out.


The guy is in high school. They should offer him an internship, not throw the stupid book at him.


> However the CFAA simply doesn't work that way. "Authorisation" is what the designers intended, and the initial paywall made that intention perfectly clear.

That might be the case but it's also nuts. It encourages litigation over better design and makes public enemies out of security professionals, ultimately driving away those professionals from the US and making US developed tech weak.


It's not nuts when compared to non-tech laws.

It's illegal to come into my house and take my stuff even if I forget to lock my back door.

If we want to protect security professionals, we should write laws that do so.


I think the local culture needs to be taken into account. Suppose I walk onto your porch, see something I want, and take it with me. That's pretty plainly theft, right? Now suppose I am eight years old, taking candy from a bowl left out on Halloween. That's pretty plainly not theft. To somebody unfamiliar with the cultural practice of trick-or-treating, they might assume that it is theft.

The internet has different cultural norms than physical space. One-to-one analogies are useful for exploring those differences, but not for arguing what they should be. If I have a WiFi connection, leaving it without a password is implicit permission to use it. If I have a server that provides HTTP without authentication, that is implicit permission to access the contents.

That is not to say that people should take advantage of these social norms. If I find a bowl of car keys left on a front porch, even if it is Halloween, I should inform the owner of the house that they probably don't want to do that. If I find incremental IDs that lead to other customers' personal information, I should inform the company, and the other customers if necessary.


> That's pretty plainly not theft.

There's not a matter of perception or culture as the candy was intentionally left out for a trick or treater to take. And since it's a well known holiday, the intent has been communicated.


And that's exactly my point: the cultural norms dictate whether something is an offer or not. For Halloween, the placing of candy outside one's door indicates that it is intended to be shared. For WiFi networks, in the absence of any other indication, not placing a password indicates that it is intended to be used.


>If I have a WiFi connection, leaving it without a password is implicit permission to use it. If I have a server that provides HTTP without authentication, that is implicit permission to access the contents.

If your door is open can I take a shower and cook a meal for myself in your house?


>If I have a WiFi connection, leaving it without a password is implicit permission to use it. If I have a server that provides HTTP without authentication, that is implicit permission to access the contents.

Lol. I don't know where you got this impression, but no, it absolutely is not.

Not only is it not, but you can absolutely be prosecuted and imprisoned for accessing those networks/servers without permission.

Furthermore, that doesn't really apply in this case because not only was he not given "implicit permission to use it", the in-flight WiFi system explicitly bars you from using the internet without paying for it.


Where do you live?

Open WiFi is like a water fountain, or a bench, in a pubic place to me. There's no explicit sign telling you to use it but who'd put it there of it were not to be used? I'm in the UK.

So, for example if I'm out and about and there's an open WiFi I'll connect to it without seeking permission .. in fact I think it would be weird to go and ask (if you could work out who to ask).


In the UK, what you're doing is illegal under the Computer Misuse Act. I don't think the police are out scouring the streets for people stealing wifi, so you probably won't be prosecuted for it. But still, it is technically illegal. Example: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-wireless/two-cauti...

(It's also very, very, very terrible practice for your own security. Don't do it.)


It would be illegal if it were unauthorised, I'm not checking it's authorised because you'd have to be a moron to have published your open router if you didn't intend to have an open router being published. Whilst there's a chance that when I go to McDo that I'm not actually authorised and to use the published open wifi, it's so slim that it's not worth me tracking down the router owner to ask them -- if that were even possible to do.

If you place a bench in public and you don't want anyone to sit on it then you need to notify people explicitly ... it's the same, I don't find the owner of benches and ask them.

Are there any attacks that work just by connecting to someone's wifi, obviously I'm only using it for non-sensitive traffic unless it's a recognised provider, it's certainly part of my security considerations. Are there specific attacks you're thinking of? Such attacks would work equally if I had explicit authorisation, of course.

Re your link, last time I looked it was allowed to have open shared wifi, and the way you indicate it's open for sharing is having it open and shared. That's probably why the police gave cautions, it placates the complainant and they didn't have to lose in court.


Connecting to open WiFi for internet access is just as secure as connecting to WiFi with WPA enabled. There are so many insecure hops between you and your destination that the last mile access mode is irrelevant.


>Furthermore, that doesn't really apply in this case because not only was he not given "implicit permission to use it", the in-flight WiFi system explicitly bars you from using the internet without paying for it.

Then it should do so. If I connect and I can use the network without paying, that's not my fault.


If you knowingly and with intent use that network without paying, even when knowing that the owner of the network wants all users to pay, it absolutely is your fault. The airline could literally put zero restrictions on their network access, but as long as they put up a sign that says "internet is only for those who pay for it", it would be both illegal and wrong for you to access that internet without paying.

I honestly can't believe we're even having this conversation. It is theft, period. Not only is it illegal, it's blatantly immoral.


>I honestly can't believe we're even having this conversation. It is theft, period. Not only is it illegal, it's blatantly immoral.

It's not theft. It's not immoral either. Open wlan means exactly that, so where is the sign? You are on HN, so using something like a VPN is not uncommon, regardless of what network you are using.


> It's illegal to come into my house and take my stuff even if I forget to lock my back door.

For some reason, on HN when I've made this argument before, the resulting comments have been that the internet is somehow different, and that real-world analogies don't exist. Using equipment that you don't own in a way the owners don't intend is apparently well-accepted.


Probably because this is a victimless crime...

What he did would be more akin to someone entering your property, having their lunch in your garden and cleaning up before leaving.


This is a business and satellite bandwidth is fairly precious.

A better analogy would be going into a restaurant with big “No Outside Food” signs with a sandwich you made at home, hiding the sandwich in a false compartment to get past a check at the door, printing the restaurant’s name on your sandwich wrapper so it looks like you bought it there, and then eating it at a table meant for paying customers.


I love these analogies, but that's wrong. A better analogy would be you use their raw ingredients to make your own food, bring your own utensils and plates, and sit at their restaurant to eat. Basically, you're leasing their bandwidth without payment. Airlines are paying viasat or some other company for access to their satellites and expecting customers to pay the cost for usage (and probably make some profit).


Uplink for airplanes is not free by any means.

Regardless of the criminality a real world analog would be more akin to someone taking a chair in a starbucks without paying - maybe there's room, and maybe it doesnt burden them unduly - but the company definitely pays a cost for each table aggregated across its customers.


> Probably because this is a victimless crime...

How is this a victimless crime?


It's not victimless, the loser is the service provider whose bandwidth is consumed. The line many draw is that corporations aren't people and can't be the victim, this is a false analogy.

Thus: let's switch who is penalized: everyone else on the flight. Bandwidth isn't unlimited, without payment it's hard to justify increasing bandwidth if it isn't profitable.

What should the author do? Report it. If he didn't, maybe you can submit it to the company. If they have a bug bounty, you may get paid (if this happens: would you give the money to the original author?)

If you run a company: you should determine how to insensitivise reporting, it's possible in this case: not fixing it spreads awareness, most people can't/don't exploit it.


> "Thus: let's switch who is penalized: everyone else on the flight."

Only if everybody else on the flight was paying for WiFi (doubtful) and bandwidth was maxed out during the flight (plausible.)


Correct, I failed to clarify it penalized the paying users IF bandwidth was maxed out.


Name the victim, please.

Because it looks like it causes a infinitesimal harm to a corporation whereby no person is harmed to any noticeable extent, aka a victimless crime.

"Victimless crime" doesn't mean there are no negative effects, it means no _person_ is a victim.


Every user who bears the additional cost of the service because of freeloaders is a victim.


Your working definition sounds like it's wrong: Could you give an example of what you call a "victimless crime"?


Have you tried Wikipedia?


What you're describing (someone entering your property, having their lunch in your garden and cleaning up before leaving) meets all the elements of physical trespass if the owner of the property didn't grant permission, and is unlawful. Now, the damages might be minimal, but it's still unlawful.

In the U.S., property law is about the right to control access and use -- harm is a secondary concern.


Well, mentally ill people sometimes do break into houses and do harmless things, like making a sandwich or taking a shower, and this generally has severe consequences for them even though it was not malicious, and is of course experienced as a shock and/or violation by the owner who discovers it.

It's really weird that this is presented as normal so frequently in a virtual context.


Granted that's still a crime. You probably won't use the video recording of that guy to file a police report (unless you suspect he did something else on your property, which would be like the author also running aggressive nmap scans) just as viasat is probably not going to file a lawsuit.


Closer to breaking into a vacant hotel room instead of checking in at the front desk.


maybe more like someone entering a restaurant, sitting down at one of their tables and eating a lunch they brought themselves, or just reading a book, taking up that table during a busy lunch period.


No, it's more like tricking the restaurant staff into giving him a free meal.


Equating entering buildings with communicating with computers on the internet really is an awful analogy. You can stand in front of a building and be able to tell whether it's a house or a store, i.e. a building meant for private access or for public access. You can also tell a difference between a back door and a front door by looking from afar. You can do neither of these things with computers. You can't look at it from afar to give you clues, you need to communicate with it. The way computers communicate is dictated by protocols. Protocols will tell you stuff like whether you're allowed to talk to them or not. TCP includes telling you whether you're allowed or not via its protocol. HTTP will tell you whether you're allowed or not via its protocol. If the protocols don't tell you they're unwilling to talk, and continue by talking to you, you can only assume its ok for them to talk to you.

When you first try to communicate with a computer, you can't even know it exists until it replies to you. For the analogy with entering buildings to hold, everybody must be blind and deaf and all buildings must be the same from the outside. Under these conditions, you need to lock your doors, because the only way for anyone to be able to differentiate a house from a store is whether or not the door is locked (TCP connection accepted or rejected). When they approach a door, they can't even tell if the door is really there. They might just grasp the air when they reach out with their hand (TCP timeout from lack of response).

A better analogy is people talking. Everybody is still blind but not deaf. Let's say your robot slaves are talking. Your robot, probably bored, calls out to somebody, "Robot 10?". A robot replies, "yeah?". So, now you know they exist and they're willing to talk to you; you've initiated a TCP connection. "So, how's it going?" your robot asks; HTTP GET /. "My master got married last week.", he responds; HTTP 200 OK. Then comes out his master from behind the curtain, and says "No! It was never my intention for my robot to give out this information. In fact, it was never my intention for my robot to reply to anything anyone ever said. This is your fault!", pointing at you. "You called out to Robot 10, and he replied when it was never my intention for him to reply. He should have said, 'Sorry, I don't talk to strangers' (TCP connection rejection or HTTP 403 Forbidden) or refused to talk (TCP timeout from lack of response) or something. I could have told him to keep quiet, that such things are confidential, but... but... but you should not have called out to Robot 10! You're a criminal! Don't ever do that again. I may just have configured him incorrectly to die whenever he hears a greeting and that will be your fault too if you greet him! I'll charge you with murder for greeting him! and I'll sue you for compensation for the damages I incurred from my robot not being able to do some work for me while being dead."

We could disregard a computer's configuration as indication of their master's intent. However, that doesn't mean not entering someone's house via the back door. It means not talking to anyone ever for fear of them turning around and accusing you for talking to them or for hearing stuff they willingly told you.


The path between two cities is privately owned and the owner charges people to walk through it. There is a side gate for bathroom access. This is akin to going up to the gate and telling the owner "I'm just here to use the bathroom" (sni:viasat) and then after going through the gate just continuing to the other city.

Sure it's illegal, but hardly worth 5 years and I doubt there's a judge who would give more than community service for a stunt like this. But who knows, people get a lot more sensitive when it happens with computers or if it involves air travel.


> I doubt there's a judge who would give more than community service for a stunt like this.

Trouble is, the judge doesn't get to decide. Judges have to follow the federal sentencing guidelines. These can produce some bizzare results. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/03/41-months-weev-underst...


> It's illegal to come into my house and take my stuff even if I forget to lock my back door.

This is such a poor analogy. You are conflating access with use... someone "steeling your stuff" is what they do with the access, access is figuring out how to open the door which is the focus of what this guy was doing...

This is where all physical world analogies basically end, the closest would be a lock picking enthusiast, but digital access is a huge complicated world that is conflated with the concept of selling communication.

The so-called US law talks of intent, so why not talk about intent of the "accused" here: This clearly isn't some average freeloader interested in saving $12, the interest is far deeper, the challenge in overcoming the access and then presenting what he found out "isn't this interesting" - is that really the behavior of someone intent on "steeling your stuff". No.

If you really want to talk about what he "stole" as a process of that intent, it's literally utility, like a bathroom with a $12 lock... of which it is of course not even clear how much he used, the focus was all about figuring out how to gain access, not seeing how much netflix he could download.


It's not illegal to use 500GB of fibre bandwidth in a month when you only pay for 250GB though (say due to a bug in their method of counting usage).


If you do it by accident? Sure. If you discover that you can trigger the bug by unplugging the router at 11:59PM and take advantage of this to blow through your limits? That’s not so legal, no.


It is not unauthorised access when you exceed your bandwith quota. It is simply another debt, even if it is not billed correctly yet. Most will lose internet subscription if it were considered unauthorised access.


It is if you intentionally structure your communications to evade their accounting.


Has it, though, in practice? The CFAA has been in effect for over 30 years. If this law actually had the chilling effect you claim it does, we would already have observed a significant security talent exodus from the U.S. My observation from having worked in Silicon Valley throughout the past 20 years suggests there's still plenty of talent to go around and plenty of lawful work being done.


The reason it hasn't is because the CFAA's track record as a prosecutorial tool is mixed at best. Of the 8 or so high profile cases using it only one conviction has actually held up. As a result, prosecutors are understandably hesitant about leaning on it.


Understood. Also, I bet every sibling comment to this one will be terribly low quality and fail to convince anyone of anything.


Also, it’s plainly fraud.


wouldn't this also constitute wire fraud?




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