Trolls are federal criminals now

This Court of Appeals decision should making policing the blog considerably easier for the moderators:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Facebook v. Vachani, which I flagged just last week. For those of us worried about broad readings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision is quite troubling. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization….

As I read the court’s opinion, the main issue is state of mind. Did you know that the computer owner didn’t want you to visit the website? At first, Power didn’t know Facebook’s view. But after the cease-and-desist letter, Power knew Facebook’s position. As a result, it was a federal crime to use Facebook after having received Facebook’s letter telling it to stay away. If I’m reading the opinion correctly, it appears that every contact with the computer that its owner doesn’t want is “without authorization.” The main question becomes mens rea: The visit becomes a federal crime when the visitor knows that the computer owner doesn’t want it.

Got that, everyone? If I tell you to go away, and you continue to visit or comment here, you are committing a federal crime. I’m sure the FBI doesn’t have anything better to do than investigate violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, so I trust you will comply.