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Is it now illegal to administer a service online for someone with disabilities?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act…. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization.

(link)

This has been doing the rounds for about 24 hours and it’s worth stopping to think about the implications from the perspective of disability. I manage a range of online services for my little brother, who certainly wouldn’t be able to manage them on his own. Reading the ruling – it appears quite clear that this is illegal under US law unless I’ve explicitly got permission from the service to do it…

For most people this is a minor unenforceable oddity, on a par with mild speeding, but I can imagine the knock on effects – for example around asking a care staff member to update your Facebook becomes ordering an employee to carry out an illegal act.

Silly ruling, and one that needs to be updated quickly.

 

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