Old Hacking Law Hampers the Fight Against Online Discrimination
Terms-of-service agreements, which most Internet users consent to without even knowing it, do not explicitly ban pair testing. Rather, they ban the techniques that underlie it. CareerBuilder, the site that Villarreal used to look for work, has rules against providing false personal information and engaging in scraping, a method of automatically recording large amounts of data, even if that data is freely available. Other employment and housing sites—LinkedIn, Airbnb, Craigslist—have similar provisions. Companies say these rules are necessary to insure honest transactions. But digital-rights advocates point to a chilling effect: researchers, fearful of C.F.A.A. litigation, are deterred from uncovering discrimination online.