We're excited to bring EFF to All Things Open, the annual gathering of free and open source software developers in Raleigh, NC. Be sure to stop by EFF’s booth to learn what we’re up to and how you can get involved. You can even become a member or pick up some unique EFF swag.
On Tuesday during the Open Government / Open Data track, catch EFF's Staff Attorney Jamie Williams' presentation on automated access and the CFAA:
When: October 22nd, 11:30 AM
Where: Room 203
Track: Open Government / Open Data
For tech lawyers, one of the hottest questions this year is: can companies use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—an imprecise and outdated criminal anti-‘hacking’ statute intended to target computer break-ins—to block competitors’ use of automated Web browsing tools (a.k.a., ‘scraping’) to access publicly available information on their websites? The answer to this question has wide-ranging implications for everyone. It could impact the public’s ability to use technology to make accessing publicly available information on the open Web easier. It could impede investigative journalism and security research. And in a world of algorithms and artificial intelligence, lack of access to data is a barrier to product innovation, and blocking access to data means blocking any chance for meaningful competition.
This talk will provide an overview of the CFAA’s history and recent case law (i.e., how we got here), the impact a broad reading of the CFAA would have on the Web, and why this should be a concern for anyone who cares about preserving open access to information online.
As law professor Michael J. Madison wrote, resolving the debate about the CFAA’s scope “is linked closely to what sort of Internet society has and what sort of Internet society will get in the future.” If courts allow companies to transform the CFAA into an anti-competitive tool, it will threaten open access to information for everyone.