Did Stephen Colbert And President Bill Clinton Violate The CFAA?
from the another-day,-another-example dept
Let's jump over to Twitter's terms of service. There, they clearly forbid impersonation:
Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive othersNow, you could argue that Colbert registering an account for Clinton without his permission does not reach that level, but are you confident that someone else doing the same thing less publicly wouldn't run into problems if their tweets pissed someone off? An account that many people believe actually belongs to Bill Clinton would be highly valuable. Indeed, just overnight the account has racked up tens of thousands of followers. In the meantime, it's not even entirely clear who actually controls the account. Colbert registered it and tweeted from it. Are any future tweets coming from Colbert or Clinton or someone else? It's not difficult to make an argument that the account is intended to confuse others. Furthermore, if Colbert is transferring the account over to Clinton, it means that Clinton never actually agreed to the terms of service in the first place. Would that mean he is then abusing the use of the service?
While they appear to now have been deleted, according to the Washington Post, after the inaugural post done live on the air, there were a series of other tweets in which it was not clear if it was Clinton or Colbert tweeting. One had "Clinton" refer to "Colbert" as his new "BFF" and the tweets used the hashtag "#notColbertpretendingtobeme." At the very least, there is clear confusion, and a regular person might assume that this is Bill Clinton tweeting. If it's actually Colbert, it could be seen as a CFAA violation.
Yes, this is a stretch -- no doubt about it. But that's part of the problem with the CFAA. It is so broadly worded that simple activities like these can be twisted into a violation should someone in power wish to do so.