By Geng Chen
DOJ Defends Expansive Interpretation of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
NPR reports that Richard Downing, deputy chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the Department of Justice, testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee on the DOJ’s proposal to broaden its reading of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). An advance copy of Downing’s written statement, obtained by CNET, advocated for criminal prosecutions based on violations of Web sites’ “terms of service” policies or any “similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider.” As reported by the WSJ, at the hearing, Professor Orin Kerr of George Washington Law School criticized the vague and broad statutory language of the CFAA that would permit such prosecutions and expressed concern that the DOJ’s new interpretation would criminalize routine violations such as lying about one’s physical attributes on Internet dating sites. Though Downing verbally reassured lawmakers that these were “unsubstantiated fears”, given the government’s limited time and resources, he did not repudiate the government’s authority to pursue such cases.
Rambus Loses Antitrust Case Against Micron and Hynix
The Washington Post reports that after five months of deliberations, a California jury has found against Rambus in its antitrust case against Micron and Hynix for conspiracy to fix memory chip prices and interference with its business relationship with Intel. As reported by Bloomberg, though Intel initially collaborated with Rambus to implement its proprietary RDRAM technology, Rambus alleged that Micron and Hynix conspired to artificially raise prices of chips incorporating RDRAM and drove Intel away from adopting RDRAM as an industry standard. A Reuters article, relying on an anonymous source within the jury, indicates that the jury was not convinced that a lone Micron email adequately proved conspiracy and was swayed by the testimony of a former Intel executive that described the souring of the Rambus-Intel relationship as unrelated to pricing. Rambus is considering an appeal, based on grounds that the judge disallowed from evidence certain facts from a Department of Justice price-fixing investigation in 2005.
PhoneDog Sues Former Employee for His Twitter Account
Ars Technica reports developments in the case of a former employee of PhoneDog, an “interactive mobile news and reviews web resource,” who was sued for misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with economic advantage, and conversion over his Twitter account. Noah Kravitz amassed 17,000 followers as “@PhoneDog_Noah” but changed his handle to “@noahkravitz” after leaving the company. The trial judge dismissed PhoneDog’s interference claim but allowed the trade secrets and conversion claims to go forward. According to Forbes, Kravitz says that his employer never asked him to create the account and that he always used it for personal as well as business purposes. The damages of $2.50 per follower claimed by PhoneDog may be complicated by the additional 4,000 followers that Kravitz has accumulated since his resignation. An official statement by PhoneDog, as reported by Computerworld, argues that the company’s Twitter account naming convention establishes company ownership of the account, but does not mention any implied or express contract with Kravitz specifically regarding this particular account.