From Clickwrap to RAP Sheet: Criminal Liability Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for Terms of Service Violations [Updated April 27, 2020]   [open pdf - 677KB]

From the Document: "Computers and the internet are ubiquitous, and so too are contractual restrictions on their use. Users of smartphones, tablets, personal computers, social media websites, apps, online shopping platforms, streaming services, and more are generally bound by terms of service (ToS) agreements--contracts that govern the use of a product. Often, ToS agreements take the form of clickwrap agreements requiring users to click a box indicating that they are aware of, and agree to, certain terms on a website. In other instances ToS agreements may simply amount to a written notification that by using a product, the user agrees to be bound by the product's ToS. Either way, at least according to some empirical studies, users generally do not read TOS agreements. That is perhaps unsurprising given that ToS agreements are often lengthy, covering everything from the number of authorized users of a product to the types of content that may be shared through a device or service. But providers of computer and internet products and services rely on ToS for a variety of purposes, including limiting liability, protecting proprietary data, and preventing their products or services from being used in a harassing, threatening, or abusive manner. Against this backdrop, federal courts have diverged on the issue of whether an individual may--under certain circumstances--be criminally liable under federal law for ToS violations."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10423
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
Help with citations