Could cyber-trespass kill the net?

This is an interesting article in Wired from Jennifer Granick. The author claims that the growing number of cases that require users of other computers for permission before using it to access the internet may stifle innovation. The article starts with some amazing examples of websites coming together to help victims of Hurricane Katrina to find friends and family. But then the article makes a turn and warns that new cases against cyber-trespass threaten such examples. I must say that I did not follow the reasoning jump there.

Granick is correct in the assessment of the growing number of cases against cyber-trespass, used to regulate anything from unauthorised access to wireless networks to spam. Pamela Samuelson has a short article (registration required) with some of the cases. Dan Burk has another good article about this subject. Nevertheless, I think that some of the wider implications of the cases are being exaggerated, and thankfully, these cases may not have equivalent this side of the Atlantic, according to Professor Steve Hedley’s paper “Do we need a tort of cybertrespass?”, which I heard last week at the SLS conference.

This is an intriguing subject that requires more study.

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