Contributed by: ElyseRomano Friday, October 25 2013 @ 06:53 am
If I'm going to be arrested for committing a federal crime, I at least want it to be a federal crime I knew I was committing. Preferably something really badass, like a complicated art heist from a major museum.
What I don't want to go to jail for is my online dating profile, because when all the other prisoners talked about the crazy crimes they got locked up for, there's no way I could say "online dating."
All joking aside, apparently there's an actual chance that you could be committing a federal crime by - wait for it - lying on your online dating profile. Which means basically everyone is now a criminal. Here's what's going down...
Mother Jones wrote a report back in July called The 3 Most Absurdly Outdated Internet Laws[*1] , one of which is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Under the CFAA, which is an anti-hacking law from way back in 1984 (was hacking even a thing then?), it's illegal to "knowingly [access] a computer without authorization."
Therein lays the problem: "computer" apparently also means "web site," and the way you get authorization to access most web sites is to agree to the company's terms of service. And no one ever reads the terms of service.
To see this problem at work, take this terms of service from a popular dating site:
By requesting to use, registering to use, or using the Singles Service, you represent and warrant that you are not married. If you are separated, but not yet legally divorced, you may not request to use, register to use, or use the Singles Service...You will not provide inaccurate, misleading or false information to eHarmony or to any other user.
So, in theory, if an eHarmony user shaves off a few pounds, adds a couple of inches, or promises they're a natural redhead when it's actually dye, they are in violation of federal law. And let's not get started on the massive amounts of people who are fibbing about being single when they actually have a significant other who's about to be very angry that their partner is A) Trying to cheat on them and B) Headed to the Big House for breaking federal law.
Thankfully, no one is really enforcing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, especially not on online dating sites. Let's face it: if they did, there'd be no one left to date.
Then again, maybe they should. Honesty is the foundation of any good relationship, after all...