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Could You Be Prosecuted for Lying About Your Weight on Dating Sites?

"gross misuse of the law"

Don't want information to be associated with your real name? Don't want to tell people on how much you really weigh? There's a simple solution for situations like these that many on the Internet have been doing since its inception: lying.

But did you know this could violate the website's terms of use? Have you even read the terms of use for websites you frequent?

You may want to start, as the Department of Justice is pushing for lying on the Internet to be a prosecutable crime -- if it violates the terms and conditions of websites where the lie takes place . CNET has more:

The law must allow "prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider," Richard Downing, the Justice Department's deputy computer crime chief, will tell the U.S. Congress [today].

Scaling back that law "would make it difficult or impossible to deter and address serious insider threats through prosecution," and jeopardize prosecutions involving identity theft, misuse of government databases, and privacy invasions, according to Downing.

CNET describes how the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act had been used by the Justice Department to convict Lori Drew in 2008 for using a fake name on MySpace to harass a 13-year-old girl who then ended up committing suicide. The conviction was later dismissed:

What makes this possible is a section of the CFAA that was never intended to be used that way: a general-purpose prohibition on any computer-based act that "exceeds authorized access." To the Justice Department, this means that a website's terms of service define what's "authorized" or not, and ignoring them can turn you into a felon.

According to Wired, the CFAA was meant to be an anti-hacking law:

When the legislation was first enacted in the 1980s, it specifically targeted computer hacking and other computer misuse, Kerr argues in a written version of the testimony (.pdf) he plans to give. But since then, Congress has broadened the statute significantly four times, expanding the law’s reach and rendering it “unconstitutionally vague.”

The law as it currently stands allows prosecutors to criminally prosecute users for violating an internet service provider’s terms of service agreement, something that would normally be a breach of contract issue handled in civil court rather than through criminal prosecution.

CNET reports that the Justice Department not only seeks to enforce terms of use but to expand the reach of the CFAA, and that many groups including ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and FreedomWorks this as a "gross misuse of the law."

One last thing…
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