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Court rules that IP cloaking to access blocked sites violates law

by Steven Musil August 19, 2013 9:34 PM PDT CNET


In a case between Craigslist and data harvester 3Taps, a federal judge rules that changing an IP address or using a proxy server to access a blocked Web site violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.



Disguising an IP address or using a proxy server to visit Web sites you've been banished from is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer for the Northern District of California issued the ruling Friday in a copyright infringement lawsuit between Craigslist and data harvester 3Taps. The legal dispute began in July 2012 when Craigslist sent a cease-and-desist letter to apartment listing app PadMapper, claiming it was violating the site's terms of service by scraping apartment rental information from the online classifieds site.

PadMapper complied and took the listings down before 3Taps provided a workaround. Craigslist soon filed a copyright claim against 3Taps and PadMapper, which displays and links listings, found on Craigslist and other services, on a Google map. 3Taps countersued, claiming that Craigslist was trying to create a monopoly by squeezing out competition in the growing market.

Craigslist blocked the Internet Protocol addresses associated with 3Taps, but the data harvester continued to scrape data off Craigslist by concealing its identity with different IP addresses and proxy servers. Craigslist argued that the 3Taps' subterfuge violated the CFAA, which prohibits the intentional access of a computer without authorization that results in the capture of information from a protected computer.

Some courts have already taken a dim view of the law. In an April 2012 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the government's broad interpretation of the law, warning that millions of Americans could be subjected to prosecution for harmless Web surfing at work.

 Full Article


How do you feel about this as I use a VPN to Mask & Secure my connection away from home at HotSpots or Hotels and to see Block sites in the US that is automatically Blocked as I live Canada?



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Re: Court rules that IP cloaking to access blocked sites violates law

The difficulty comes in the various interpretations.  I think in your own useage TH, there is no intent to gain access by fraud.  You are not trying to access sites to which the site owner has attempted to banish you personlly.


It appears that in the ruling in question, the banished party (Much like Webroot has banished certain Trolls from the Community here) is using the cloaking to re-gain access to continue to violate the terms of use of the site.


While the actual act may be the same, the intent is vastly different, and in many laws it is the intent that is important.


Of course in many laws (possibly this one...) the good intentions of the politicians tend to forget to take the user intent into account, as well as network realities (Such as in a work environment) and so those with no harmful intent at all (like you TH) end up being potentially at risk.





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