How the Supreme Court could decide it’s a federal crime to lie about your height on Tinder

A cybersecurity law in front of the Supreme Court could have Americans reconsidering sharing their Netflix password.

The court began hearing arguments in Van Buren v. United States on Monday, where justices will decide just what “unauthorized use” of a computer means in the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The case involves a former police sergeant who shared license plate data with an acquaintance, but supporters of the plaintiff warn the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law could have far broader consequences.

Even though the CFAA was enacted well before the current internet era, it still governs “unauthorized” access to a computer or network, TechCrunch describes. In this case, former police sergeant Nathan Van Buren was found guilty of violating the CFAA because he did not use the data for its authorized purpose. The Supreme Court is set to interpret just what “unauthorized” access really means.

By defining unauthorized too broadly, the court could “decide whether millions of ordinary Americans are committing a federal crime whenever they engage in computer activities that, while common, don’t comport with an online service or employer’s terms of use,” Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford University’s law school, told TechCrunch. That could include sharing a streaming service password, lying on a dating site, or using a work computer for a non-work purpose, Pfefferkorn said.

Pfefferkorn’s colleague Jeff Fisher, who is representing Van Buren, was sure to note in his briefs how the Supreme Court could end up opening a can of worms for Tinder and its 5’11” clientele. Kathryn Krawczyk

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