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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers asked a federal appeals court Thursday to block the government's attempt to wrongly expand federal computer crime law, turning misdemeanor charges into felonies.
In an amicus brief filed in U.S. v. Cioni, EFF and NACDL argue that federal prosecutors abused computer crime law when they brought felony charges against Elaine Cioni for accessing others' email. Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a first-time unauthorized access offense is a typically a misdemeanor. But in Cioni's trial, the government pushed for felony convictions, claiming that the CFAA violations were in furtherance of violations of the Stored Communications Act (SCA). However, the acts that they claimed violated the SCA were identical to acts that violated the CFAA.