Do Private Websites Deserve Privacy Protection?
from the the-legal-question-of-the-hour dept
For years, technology has been mucking up the court system, by taking on laws that the technology makes obsolete. The problem gets even worse when judges and juries don’t understand the technology either, and make decisions that often make the situation worse. In the past, this has even resulted in calls for technology courts where judges would be required to have a core understanding of technology. The EFF is now getting involved in a case where a the right decision was made for the wrong reasons — potentially meaning that no website deserves any right to privacy, even password protected ones. In the case in question, a critic of a company wrote on his website that representatives from that company were not allowed to enter his publicly accessible site. People from the company did view it and so he sued. The court looked at the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and freaked out thinking that he might have a case. It all hinged on the definition of “storage.” In the end, the court tossed out the case, claiming that a website didn’t qualify as electronic storage. If that’s the case, however, then no website, even those that are password protected are covered by the ECPA. As the EFF points out, there was a much easier way to solve this issue: the law is clear that anything that is readily accessible to the general public has no right to privacy — and, obviously, a public website fits that criteria. Of course, even more fault can be put on the shoulders of whoever drafted the law — but if the courts can’t deal with technology very well, it’s not even worth getting started about politicians and technology.