Back in March, I blogged about my agreeing to work pro bono on a Third Circuit appeal, United States v. Auernheimer, that raises several critical questions about the scope of the computer crime laws. I spent part of May and most of the last month working on the brief, and I’m happy to say it was filed just a few moments ago.
You can read the brief here. My co-counsel on the brief are Hanni Fakhoury of the EFF, Marcia Hofmann, Tor Ekelend, and Mark Jaffe. I tend to think that briefs should speak for themselves, so I don’t plan to say a lot about it here. But I do think this case raises several foundational questions about the scope of the computer crime laws. At bottom, the case is about the freedom to surf the web. But once you get into the details, it’s also about several kinds of prosecutorial overreach: Circular theories that try to turn misdemeanors into felonies; an astonishing view of venue that would allow any AUSA anywhere to bring charges in their district for crimes having nothing to do with their district; and punitive sentences based largely on smoke and mirrors. And it’s all in there in a single case. That’s how I look at it, at least. As always, YMMV. Anyway, I invite readers to weigh on the case and the brief in the comment threads.