🧑‍⚖️ SCOTUS decides anti-hacking case that will apply to almost everyone

The Supreme Court decided 6-3 that a police officer who misused a work database should be off the hook because he had access to the system. It’s good news for just about anyone who has ever messed around on their work computer.

  • The officer was paid $5,000 by a woman to look up a license plate: The request was part of a sting operation, and he was charged like a hacker, despite having authorized access to the license plate database.

  • The Supreme Court took up the case after a lower court convicted the officer: Judge Amy Coney Barrett authored the ruling that deemed the conviction invalid and narrowed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the primary hacking law in the U.S. 

  • This was not your typical partisan ruling: The three Trump appointees and the court’s three liberal Justices formed the majority. 

They may have saved us

Ahead of the ruling, Neil Gorsuch said a broad interpretation of the law could have made “a federal criminal of us all.” That’s to say that numerous acts committed on computers and databases unrelated to core job duties could have technically been illegal if the SCOTUS had decided the other way. 

  • Coney Barrett shared a similar sentiment in her ruling, saying prosecutors had overreached and if interpreted broadly could have criminalized “everything from embellishing an online-dating profile to using a pseudonym on Facebook." 

The Verdict 

This is one of the few times you’ll find civil liberties activists on the same side as Coney Barrett.