Did you know it is a misdemeanor to use your work computer to email your friends? If you check the score of the ballgame from work, it is also a misdemeanor. If you make reservations for dinner from your work computer you have also committed a crime. If you check your Facebook account on your lunch break from your work computer, you could be fined and could go to jail.

The law which criminalizes such behaviors is called the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; and if the Department of Justice (DOJ) gets its way, they want to make misusing your computer in any way a felony under the “exceeds authorized use” of any computer including your own personal computer. For all of the above offenses, you could be prosecuted and most likely play a fine. However, if the DOJ gets its way, you will go to jail because they will prosecute you as a felon if they convince Congress to strengthen this 1986 law!

Facebook Becomes Fascist Book

Facebook has joined in on the debate. You know Facebook, the company started up by the CIA so they could spy on us. Many on Facebook already refer to it as Fascistbook because they “punish” users for sending friends requests, despite the fact that Facebook sends these potential “friends” right to your page and invites you to do so. And if you send too many shared messages out at one time, they will suspend your account. Yet, nobody could tell you how many messages and shares can you send before you are in trouble as Facebook keeps this a secret. Technically, you have committed a misdemeanor by violating Facebook’s vague user agreement.

Now, the police state surveillance grid wants to interject themselves into the enforcement of Facebook policy and begin to prosecute violators of the fake name rules as written by the legal scholars at Facebook.

Around the first of the year, Facebook suspended the accounts of activists Michael Rivero and Jon Rappoport presumably because they did not follow some obscure Facebook editorial policy. And if that was not bad enough, now the DOJ wants to go after Facebook users who break Facebook rules and they want to prosecute violations of Facebook policy as a felony, especially if one uses a name other than their real name. The intent is obvious. The dossier being prepared and updated daily by the NSA on your personal threat matrix score will not be as accurate as they desire if you use aliases in the social media arena. Big Brother has to know where you are at all times and what you are up to or the police state surveillance grid will be compromised if you are allowed to use an alias.

The Tyranny Does Not End With Facebook

Have you ever registered to an online dating website? Do you think anyone has ever understated their weight on a dating website, or have shaved a few years off of their age in an online profile?

If you submitted a slightly embellished resume to a prospective employer, via the Internet, you could soon go to jail as a felon under the new proposed DOJ rules.

Technically, under this proposal, if a male lied to a female about loving her in an email, solely for the accused purpose of having sexual relations, the male could soon be guilty of a felony.

Under this new proposal, anyone lying on any website could go to jail no matter how innocent the “white” lie.

Richard Downing, the DOJ’s deputy computer crime chief, delivered the request to criminalize any kind of misrepresentation on the Internet and to criminalize, as a felony, any violation of the proposed new rules. The DOJ argued that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is an amendment to the Counterfeit Access Device and Abuse Act generally used to prosecute hacking and other serious cyber-crimes, and which went into effect in 1986, must give prosecutors the ability to charge people “based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider.” Not only that, how many of you have ever signed a terms of service agreement before you could log in on a WiFi or access a website? Did you really read the user agreement that you signed? Would you even know if you had ever violated a terms of service or user agreement form? The answer for nearly all of us is a resounding no.

If Congress were ever to give in to the demands of the DOJ and criminalize every inaccuracy on the Internet, then the legal question of ex post facto laws comes into play. Ex post facto means that the government cannot criminalize a behavior for what happened on Monday by passing a law outlawing the behavior on Tuesday. Because the vast majority of postings on the Internet are in perpetuity, something that you posted five years ago, way before any law was passed, could still come back to haunt you because the “crime” was still in progress since the posting is still active on the Internet today. This could represent an entire undoing of due process procedures in court.
Good News, Bad News and Very Bad News

The DOJ lost their bid to criminalize every Internet inaccuracy in December of 2012. This is the temporary good news.

The bad news is that both the DOJ and the FBI have been back up on Capitol Hill with similar proposals since that time. Congress may have extended the illegal surveillance powers of the NSA, but they have not had the guts to pass laws that would make it a virtual certainty that one day, intentionally or not, every Web-surfing American will violate some type of a "terms of service agreement;" thus, rendering you vulnerable to prosecution as a felon. At least they have not until now. This is the bad news.

Assume you were a dissenter and becoming an annoyance to the administration. To get you out of the way, all they would need to do is to assign a small team of Internet forensics investigators who would investigate your behavior for every site you have ever visited. And one day, voila, they discover that you used a copyright protected downloaded Google image for an article you wrote and you are busted. This is the very bad news.

Subsequently, the selective prosecution team of the DOJ knocks down your door in a SWAT team raid, seizes all of your computers and takes you to prison after running you through a kangaroo trial. Federal trials end up in over 90% conviction rates. During the time you are railroaded through the legal process, additional charges of domestic terrorism are added for what you have written on the Internet, thus increasing your prison time served. This is the very, very bad news and it will have a chilling effect on all citizen journalism on the Internet. 

How pervasive could this DOJ approach to selectively persecuting journalists be? Just ask yourself how many times you have read an article by a popular journalist regarding government corruption, and their YouTube video has subsequently been taken down for a violation of copyright or for some other specified reason that is listed as a dead link within the article? Under this new approach, that event just made a felon out of the journalist. And if you as a website operator, who routinely runs articles related to government corruption, publishes an article from a contributor who knowingly, or unknowingly, has violated some service agreement somewhere along the line, you have become an accomplice to a felony and you would be charged with facilitating a felony . . . you would be facing up to five years in a federal prison. These are the goals of the DOJ.

There is another compelling reason why the DOJ wants to push this draconian legislation through. In the aftermath of the Snowden affair, the government is scrambling to severely inhibit ANY form of whistleblowing. You can bet your bottom dollar that future service agreements are going to become more specific, with more hard-to-understand legal terms, in an attempt to stay out of trouble with the government. This will undoubtedly lead to even more violations of service agreements and more prosecution of “undesirables.”
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