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Supreme Court narrows scope of sweeping cybercrime law

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SCORUS narrows scop ofsweeping cybercrime law

The Supreme Court has sharply curtailed the scope of the nation’s main cybercrime law, limiting a tool that civil liberties advocates say federal prosecutors have abused by seeking prison time for minor computer misdeeds.

The 6-3 decision handed down Thursday means federal prosecutors can no longer use the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to charge people who misused databases they are otherwise entitled to access. The ruling comes six months after justices expressed concern that the government’s sweeping interpretation of the law could place people in jeopardy for activities as mundane as checking social media on their work computers, with Justice Neil Gorsuch saying prosecutors’ view risked “making a federal criminal of us all.”

In an unusual lineup, the court's three Trump appointees — who are also the newest justices — joined the court's three liberals to reject the Justice Department's interpretation of the statute.

The Supreme Court has sharply curtailed the scope of the nation’s main cybercrime law, limiting a tool that civil liberties advocates say federal prosecutors have abused by seeking prison time for minor computer misdeeds.

The 6-3 decision handed down Thursday means federal prosecutors can no longer use the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to charge people who misused databases they are otherwise entitled to access. The ruling comes six months after justices expressed concern that the government’s sweeping interpretation of the law could place people in jeopardy for activities as mundane as checking social media on their work computers, with Justice Neil Gorsuch saying prosecutors’ view risked “making a federal criminal of us all.”

In an unusual lineup, the court's three Trump appointees — who are also the newest justices — joined the court's three liberals to reject the Justice Department's interpretation of the statute.


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