April 18, 2024

Hacking, by Subpoena

James Grimmelmann at LawMeme explains a recent opinion by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that a party that used an obviously improper subpoena to get information from a computer can be sued for breaking into that computer. If you think about this, it makes some sense, if the subpoena was used to defeat ordinary security mechanisms.


  1. John Anderson says

    Is RIAA going to be sued now that a number of its subpoenas have been ruled unlawful for being issued wholesale in one court against actors in other jurisdictions?

  2. Well, I think the question is: if an improper subpeona were used to get information from paper files in boxes, would it be theft?

  3. Unintended Effects

    I think this is an unintended effect of the law. If the messages in question were printed off in boxes and the company receiving the subponea had printed off copies to send, we wouldn’t be looking at this kind of charge and all that would be at issue is possible legal sanctions for issuing an overbroad subponea, not criminal computer tresspass. Why should the fact that a computer was involved change the legal implications of issuing an overbroad subponea?