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Perrie Juran

New Law Would Make Violating A TOS A Criminal Act

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"The U.S. Department of Justice is defending computer hacking laws that make it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or lie about your weight in an online dating profile at a site like Match.com.

In a statement obtained by CNET that's scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, the Justice Department argues that it must be able to prosecute violations of Web sites' often-ignored, always-unintelligible "terms of service" policies.

The law must allow "prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider," Richard Downing, the Justice Department's deputy computer crime chief, will tell the U.S. Congress tomorrow."

http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57324779-281/doj-lying-on-match.com-needs-to-be-a-crime/

The serious implication of all this is the potential destruction of anonymity on the Internet and how it can become a tool the government could use to silence or prosecute dissenting voices.  A service provider such as Facebook or Second Life should and does have the right to enforce their TOS as a matter of Civil Law, but to make it a criminal act could potentially make millions of people criminals who could arbitrarily be targeted for prosecution.

_____________________________________________________

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in it that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of lawbreakers-and then you cash in on guilt.

-Holden Caulfield, The Grapes of Wrath

 

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Well, it would only apply to US users of course, other users are bound by their own laws. In the UK for example, you can use whatever name you like provided it's not for fraudulent purposes.

One day governments will realise the internet is global, and they have no power over it except for the very small part that is their own population, about 4% of global population in the case of the US.

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This does not affect anonymity if you are in a community that allows it. This is a law dealing with those who lie against a terms of service. "fraud" This would not reflect against you in a platform like Sl that celebrates fraud and lies and deceit lol

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Wouldn't the criminality element enter the picture if a person supplied false information to LL when they open their account and not in the creation of the avatar? Like lying about date of birth, for example? Which. all things considered, in light of the fact that minors and adults mix in a platform which does provide the opportunity to get "intimately acquainted" maybe isn't such a bad thing?

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Thanks.   I don't understand that, I have to say.

Here in the UK, we certainly had to change some of our laws on fraud and on malicious communications to accommodate changes in technology, but the basic idea is that a crime's a crime and committing it using the internet as a medium doesn't make it anything special.  

So I'd have thought that knowingly providing false or misleading information in order to obtain goods or -- in this case -- services to which you wouldn't otherwise be entitled (access to Facebook) would be caught anyway by existing criminal and civil laws against fraud.   

The link you cite discusses the case of a woman "who used a fake MySpace account to verbally attack a 13-year old girl who then committed suicide" and whose conviction under the Computer Fraud and Misuse Act was later overturned on appeal.   That says to me, though, that what's needed are stronger laws against stalking, harassment and malicious communications.    

Surely what makes the matter serious is that the woman apparently drove the poor girl to suicide, not that she used MySpace to do it?    

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Well on the surface this seems to be just what a lot of people on here have been calling for.  People who break the ToS are treated far too leniently in some people's opinions and now if they do it then criminal proceedings can take place.  They've got what they wished for may they and the trespassers suffer for it.

As any right winger would and probably will comment, "If you are innocent then you have nothing to fear" will probably hold true in SL.  Having an alt that does not match your RL identity or known other online identities is not a breach of the ToS so therefore can never be prosecuted as such by the US authorities under this law.  

On websites where people are required to give factual and accurate information as part of the ToS so as to protect other users then what is the problem?  I'm sure you would want some serious redress if you had been duped by somebody saying they were somebody else or portraying themselves as something they were not and you had lost money or public credibility because of it.  It's tantamount to fraud, which is a criminal offence.  

If you don't want to play by the rules don't play the game.  If you want to have numerous ids and gender or body portrayals then sign up for those sites that allow it under their ToS, there are millions and millions of them out there for you.

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The buggers who need hitting with the law hard are those who spread trojancs viruses etc etc and make life miserable for those who contract them...

 

As for tos its time there was a push on insisting all companies made their terms of service sensible , legible, fair and less than a volume of war an peace to read.

 

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and she could have been prosecuted that way (and probably with more success).... but the prosecutors were trying to forward another agenda by using a high profile case to either set a precedent that would get them access to more tools to use against defendants, or generate enough publicity to raise a public outcry, and legislate those tools into use.

they don't care about the specific case, it's a win-win for them either way down the road (assuming public outcry doesn't backfire, which seems likely, and seems more likely that it would later be struck down)

 

@Montana:
actually it affects any service that is based under US law, including SL. while they may not be able to successfully do anything directly to someone outside of the US, they can indirectly affect them by targeting any business they do with US based businesses, and deny entry to the country. at least as proposed.

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As a side note it always seems to me that law in the US is more about protecting the big companies rather than the man in the street...its even more promounced than it is here in the uk - and its bad enough here.

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Maelstrom Janus wrote:

The buggers who need hitting with the law hard are those who spread trojancs viruses etc etc and make life miserable for those who contract them...

 

As for tos its time there was a push on insisting all companies made their terms of service sensible , legible, fair and less than a volume of war an peace to read.

 

if it is about a law..you can bet they will be as close to the lettering of the law as possible..

thats what made LL's adult section of the Cs and maturity definitions connected to it so confusing for a lot of people..

because it was like they were written by a lawyer reading from the law..

they could have saved a lot of headaches if they had defined things a lot clearer to residents rather than writting them out like they were writting for congress lol

 

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What the DOJ is essentially saying to justify this law is that they want to be able to lay additional charges against those who use the Internet to commit other crimes.  For instance, in Carol's example, using the Internet for I believe the term used is "grooming," that is already a crime.  So is cyber bullying in many jurisdictions. So these matters are already covered.

Please note, I did not say that it should be OK to violate a TOS.  What I did say is that it should remain a matter of Civil Law. The problem with this law is it's broadness and the potential for it's abuse by the government. 

We could choose a hot button topic like Abortion.  I am not arguing here for or against it, but at the moment it is legal in the U.S.  A person can not be prosecuted for helping another person to legally obtain an abortion. But then this law becomes a tool whereby if a government official is anti-abortion, they do have a way to legally harass a person seeking an abortion or the person helping. This is why this law is to broad in it's scope.  It gives the government the ability to make crimes out of things that aren't crimes.

Second Life, Facebook, etc already have the right and ability to sue you under Civil Law for damages should you breach their TOS.  This is where this needs to remain. 

 

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Sy Beck wrote:

On websites where people are
required
to give factual and accurate information as part of the ToS so as to
protect
other users then what is the problem?  I'm sure you would want some serious redress if you had been duped by somebody saying they were somebody else or portraying themselves as something they were not and you had lost money or public credibility because of it.  It's tantamount to fraud, which is a criminal offence.  

How is fraud defined where you are?  Here in the UK, we have the Fraud Act 2006, which, among other things, creates the offence of "fraud by false representation" (section 2 of the Act), which says someone commits an offence if he

  • made a false representation 
  • dishonestly 
  • knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading 
  • with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss.

That seems to me perfectly adequate, and catches all forms of misrepresentation, be they committed electronically or by paper means. What more do you say is needed?

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Innula Zenovka wrote:


Sy Beck wrote:

On websites where people are
required
to give factual and accurate information as part of the ToS so as to
protect
other users then what is the problem?  I'm sure you would want some serious redress if you had been duped by somebody saying they were somebody else or portraying themselves as something they were not and you had lost money or public credibility because of it.  It's tantamount to fraud, which is a criminal offence.  

How is fraud defined where you are?  Here in the UK, we have the Fraud Act 2006, which, among other things, creates the offence of "
" (section 2 of the Act), which says someone commits an offence if he
  • made a false representation 
  • dishonestly 
  • knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading 
  • with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss.

That seems to me perfectly adequate, and catches all forms of misrepresentation, be they committed electronically or by paper means. What more do you say is needed?

That is essentially how U.S. laws currently work. 

 

This whole thing reminds me a little of the Vietnam War era when Congress passed a law making "conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor" a felony.  The underhanded intent and purpose of that law at that time was targeted at the leadership in the Anti War Movement.  It was not about enforcing the law but about silencing dissident voices. 

My objection to the law is it's potential for abuse by the Government.

 

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So how will this affect companies who actively allow people to break their TOS because they don't enforce them? 'Cos I think it's time LL started to look at what their own TOS say lol.

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Cully Andel wrote:

So how will this affect companies who actively allow people to break their TOS because they don't enforce them? 'Cos I think it's time LL started to look at what their own TOS say lol.

A company does not have to do anything.

The gov't can pursue you with or without the companies assent.  They could even pursue against that company's will.  It is the legal systems prerogative.  For instance, a Judge does not have to honor a plea bargain or a prosecutor does not have to honor your request not to prosecute under many circumstances, for instance, domestic violence.  The laws were rewritten so in that instance a prosecutor could prosecute with out the victim pressing charges.

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Facebook should be avoided at all costs...JMO.

They even track where you read or post on the internet while you are NOT logged or signed in there. (Or, did. I don't keep up with them daily.)

They* want to make it illegal to even post under a user name anywhere - Forget that. It's step one to clamping down on internet freedoms. Just say no to fascism.

 

 

*not Facebook (that I know of), but, the proverbial, tin hat "They."

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Melita Magic wrote:

 

*not Facebook (that I know of), but, the proverbial, tin hat "They."

Like the Patriot Act, this makes the "They" less "Proverbial."

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Perrie Juran wrote:


Melita Magic wrote:

 

*not Facebook (that I know of), but, the proverbial, tin hat "They."

Like the Patriot Act, this makes the "They" less "Proverbial."

Yep.

PS They are Watching.

 

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The simple Constitutional attack against this is that it would allow non-governmental bodies, specifically non-legislative ones, to legislate not only law, but the penal-code.

That's something even the US President lacks the power to do, so I can't see it passing muster to give the power to Mark Zuckerberg.

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Innula Zenovka wrote:


Sy Beck wrote:

On websites where people are
required
to give factual and accurate information as part of the ToS so as to
protect
other users then what is the problem?  I'm sure you would want some serious redress if you had been duped by somebody saying they were somebody else or portraying themselves as something they were not and you had lost money or public credibility because of it.  It's tantamount to fraud, which is a criminal offence.  

How is fraud defined where you are?  Here in the UK, we have the Fraud Act 2006, which, among other things, creates the offence of "
" (section 2 of the Act), which says someone commits an offence if he
  • made a false representation 
  • dishonestly 
  • knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading 
  • with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss.

That seems to me perfectly adequate, and catches all forms of misrepresentation, be they committed electronically or by paper means. What more do you say is needed?

I'm from the UK too Innula and would agree that we are covered, this though is US law and I'm no expert on what can be cited as a fraud over there.  I chose the word tantamount to imply that deception by using a false ID is akin to fraud if you are using it for nefarious purposes for even minor things that may cause somebody personal ego injury, credibility or financial loss.  

I suppose a flippant example would be if that you had signed to a dating/friend site and posted beautiful pics of yourself, which weren't you and generally given false details and then somebody falls for it.  If they send you presents on your birthday or at Xmas and give you a big investment of their time, emotion and energy then they are going to feel like a victim of fraud when they find out that the woman they thought they were dating turns out to be a man.  Would they want to take it to court as fraud?  Probably not.  Would you like that person to be banned from the site and flagged across the net as a faker?  Quite possibly yes.

I note in the article that it provides for users to be able to use this law against the providers and/or 3rd parties presumably using the same service.  Now that would have implications on SL.  Somebody griefs me, they get a ban, but if they come back on an alt to continue the griefing am I now able to pursue not only the griefer, but the provider too through the courts?  The former for breaking the ToS and the latter for negligence...?

I am myself not bothered by this law, as I said if the ToS says, give true data then give true data.  If you want to play another id go to sites that allow for it.  My view was the law was un-necessary, but it's an interesting exercise to speculate on the outcomes.

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It is another one of those laws..."since you can't take care of yourselves using common sense, we are going to do it for you.  We are Big Brother and you are too stupid to make correct choices; thus, we are going to limit your choices for you.  Never mind we control your choices you can make. We are here to protect you.  There there...you will be fine....you don't have to think and make decisions...we will make them for you laws "  Pretty soon, we will no longer have choices to make! Hopefully, this will not be the case in my lifetime. 

It's sad that we have to have laws on the books because people are not willing to take responsibilty and own up to making bad choices.

 

 

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Sy Beck wrote:


Innula Zenovka wrote:


Sy Beck wrote:

On websites where people are
required
to give factual and accurate information as part of the ToS so as to
protect
other users then what is the problem?  I'm sure you would want some serious redress if you had been duped by somebody saying they were somebody else or portraying themselves as something they were not and you had lost money or public credibility because of it.  It's tantamount to fraud, which is a criminal offence.  

How is fraud defined where you are?  Here in the UK, we have the Fraud Act 2006, which, among other things, creates the offence of "
" (section 2 of the Act), which says someone commits an offence if he
  • made a false representation 
  • dishonestly 
  • knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading 
  • with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss.

That seems to me perfectly adequate, and catches all forms of misrepresentation, be they committed electronically or by paper means. What more do you say is needed?

I'm from the UK too Innula and would agree that we are covered, this though is US law and I'm no expert on what can be cited as a fraud over there.  I chose the word
tantamount
to imply that deception by using a false ID is akin to fraud if you are using it for nefarious purposes for even minor things that may cause somebody personal ego injury, credibility or financial loss.  

I suppose a flippant example would be if that you had signed to a dating/friend site and posted beautiful pics of yourself, which weren't you and generally given false details and then somebody falls for it.  If they send you presents on your birthday or at Xmas and give you a big investment of their time, emotion and energy then they are going to feel like a victim of fraud when they find out that the woman they thought they were dating turns out to be a man.  Would they want to take it to court as fraud?  Probably not.  Would you like that person to be banned from the site and flagged across the net as a faker?  Quite possibly yes.

I note in the article that it provides for users to be able to use this law against the providers and/or 3rd parties presumably using the same service.  Now that would have implications on SL.  Somebody griefs me, they get a ban, but if they come back on an alt to continue the griefing am I now able to pursue not only the griefer, but the provider too through the courts?  The former for breaking the ToS and the latter for negligence...?

I am myself not bothered by this law, as I said if the ToS says, give true data then give true data.  If you want to play another id go to sites that allow for it.  My view was the law was un-necessary, but it's an interesting exercise to speculate on the outcomes.

But what I don't see is why the medium by which the fraud or imposture is carried out makes any difference.

Why does anyone need a special law to prosecute people who make false claims about themselves on the internet, and thereby cause loss or harm to others, while leaving them free to practice their impostures with impunity if they use the Lonely Hearts column of a newspaper?   

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Innula Zenovka wrote:

But what I don't see is why the medium by which the fraud or imposture is carried out makes any difference.

 it doesn't, at least not in general... the whole thing is a political ploy.

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Void Singer wrote:


Innula Zenovka wrote:

But what I don't see is why the medium by which the fraud or imposture is carried out makes any difference.

 it doesn't, at least not in general... the whole thing is a political ploy.

If at it's best it was just intended as a so called "feel good" law, just like zero intolerance rules,  they can and do cause more problems than they fix.

Give your daughter a couple of aspirins to take to school with her to deal with menstrual cramps without a doctor's note she could wind up suspended from school.  And any one who thinks it hasn't happened better guess again.

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