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US v. Cioni

US v. Cioni

EFF and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers asked a federal appeals court to block the government's attempt to wrongly expand federal computer crime law turning misdemeanor charges into felonies.

In an amicus brief filed in U.S. v. Cioni EFF argued that federal prosecutors abused computer crime law when they brought felony charges against Elaine Cioni for accessing others' email. Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) a first-time unauthorized access offense is a typically a misdemeanor. But in Cioni's trial the government pushed for felony convictions claiming that the CFAA violations were in furtherance of violations of the Stored Communications Act (SCA). However the acts that they claimed violated the SCA were identical to acts that violated the CFAA.

In April 2011 the Fourth Circuit ruled that the CFAA charges against Cioni had been improperly elevated to felonies and sent the case back to the district court to reduce those convictions to misdemeanors.

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