Hacking Claims May Tackle Craigslist Copycat

     (CN) – Accused Craigslist copycat 3Taps cannot dismiss claims that its reproduction of classifieds violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal judge ruled.
     Craigslist claims in court that more than 60 million Americans visit its well-known website every month, posting “several hundred million” classified ads for free every year.
     It says 3Taps accesses the site to “scrape” all content posted there in real time.
     “3Taps markets a ‘Craigslist API’ to allow third parties to access large amounts of content from Craigslist and also operates the website craiggers.com, which ‘essentially replicated the entire Craigslist website,’ including ‘all of Craigslist’s posts,'” U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote, citing the Craigslist’s first amended complaint.
     3Taps wanted Breyer to dismiss actions 13 and 14 from that lawsuit, alleging violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and California state law.
     The company argued that both laws, the CFAA in particular, are too far reaching, with broad language that stifles technological innovation .
     Breyer said Friday, however, that it is not the responsibility of the District Court to change the law.
     “The current broad reach of the CFAA may well have impacts on innovation, competition and the general ‘openness’ of the internet, but it is for Congress to weigh the significance of those consequences and decide whether amendment would be prudent,” the San Francisco-based judge wrote.
     When Craigslist sent a cease-and-desist letter, and employed blocking mechanisms against 3Taps, the company was obligated to discontinue its operations, according to the ruling.
     Instead, 3Taps allegedly employed “IP rotation” technology that disguised its identity so it could continue scraping data. Breyer said this gives Craigslist room to invoke the anti-hacking law.
     “Here, under the plain language of the statute, 3Taps was ‘without authorization’ when it continued to pull data off of Craigslist’s website after Craigslist revoked its authorization to access the website,” Breyer wrote.
     Earlier the judge said: “However compelling 3Taps’ policy arguments, this court cannot graft an exception on to the statute with no basis in the law’s language or this circuit’s interpretive precedent.”

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