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.

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Comments on “Do Private Websites Deserve Privacy Protection?”

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MichelAngelo says:

No Privacy ?

The lawmakers and governments are still pushing, every year a little bit more, to control ANY information out there.
By doing so and removing the privacy for password protected site, they will understand, but too late, that they are writing their own apocalyptic disaster.
Hackers from around the planet are just waiting for an excuse to bypass barriers without any legal consequences..
In conclusion, removing privacy from the net is only profitable to people with bad intentions.

G says:

Re: No Privacy ?

Hackers (or rather crackers/attackers/intruders) dont really care about their being laws in place. They arent assuming theyre going to be caught.

Laws dont stop crime for those who are motivated to do them, no matter what the crime is. At best they stop those who arent really interested and provide clear ways to punish those who do them anyway.

Jesse McNelis (user link) says:

laws to protect information are silly

laws to protect information are silly.

One should protect their own information with the facilities provided(ie. encryption, file permissions).

It seems insane that one can currently get more jail time for stealing data from your computer than from breaking in to your house and stealling a printed copy.

Boo says:

Re: laws to protect information are silly

“laws to protect information are silly. “

accessing private information is akin to trespassing, and does need to carry with it appropriate legal sanctions. – not silly at all!

But in the public internet, the test of whether there has been a trespass should take into account measures taken to protect the area. That entering a secured area would take an applied effort to circumvent security measures, beyond mearly following a link or entering a URL.

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