The scientists are running into some constraints due to an old hacking law, and they’re now suing the federal government. They claim that the law is unconstitutional.
One of the issues they have with the law is that it’s relatively open-ended, making it so that activities that violate the terms of service (TOS) on a website can be prosecuted as hacking-related activities. This might include, among other things, making phony profiles.
The researchers want to be able to develop these phony profiles, however, because they can then cater them to their specific circumstances to test the site. For instance, they could see if it will return the exact same outcomes for a 25-year-old black woman as it would for a 40-year-old white guy. Researchers require this versatility, however they hesitate of prosecution– specifically if they find that particular websites do discriminate.
The researchers claim that the First Amendment gives them the right to make fake profiles, as it’s a “speech activity”. They also say that the Fifth Change and the right to due process are violated because companies have the capability to change their TOS without telling them, suggesting activities that didn’t formerly violate the TOS might all of a sudden become illegal and result in criminal charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The federal government has actually been infamously bad at making computer-related laws, as the innovation is rather brand-new and laws often can’t stay up to date with truth. Those who are dealing with charges for computer-related offenses need to understand what rights they have, and they ought to thoroughly view this case to see if those rights are most likely to change.