Court: hacking, racketeering laws don’t cover e-personation of principal

by Walter Olson on October 1, 2013

Some students in Oregon apparently thought it would be funny to create Facebook and Twitter accounts posing as an assistant principal at the middle school, and “allegedly posted materials, including some which were obscene, that caused his reputation to be diminished. He brought suit against defendants and their parents, alleging claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and for defamation and negligent supervision.” Dismissing the lawsuit, the court cited precedent that violation of websites’ terms of use does not constitute a CFAA violation, and added as to the racketeering charge: “Congress did not intend to target the misguided attempts at retribution by juvenile middle school students against an assistant principal in enacting RICO.” [Venkat Balasubramani, Eric Goldman's Technology & Marketing Law Blog; Matot v. CH (PDF), U.S. District Court, Oregon]

{ 3 comments }

1 Robert 10.01.13 at 11:20 am

This is an interesting case; do you mean to tell me he has _no_ recourse at all? Or does it just have to be a civil defamation suit?

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 10.01.13 at 11:45 am

He ought to have some sort of criminal recourse against identity theft, even if the penalties are handled in the juvenile system once the offenders are identified as juveniles.
But I realize there is a difference between my personal “ought to have” and current law’s “has.”

3 JohnC 10.03.13 at 12:26 am

If he wanted to make a serious claim, he should have pursed defamation, IIED, etc. instead of the RICO/hacking crap. I wonder if the NEA had any involvement, as they’ve been advocating on behalf of teachers in like cases (e.g., principals in Colorado, Texas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, among many others, have all suffered from (usually) MySpace hoaxes). Results (civil and criminal) vary, but are general unfavorable.

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