A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday ruled that it’s not a criminal act to violate the Terms of Service of a Web site, a decision hailed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The case, Facebook v. Power Ventures, arose because Power offered software that allowed users to aggregate Facebook friends and other data with similar sets of data from other social networking sites.

Facebook argued that because its Terms of Service forbid users from using automated methods to access user data, Power’s software violated California’s computer crime law, specifically section 502(c) which prohibits access to computers or information that a person is not authorized to access.

The EFF filed an amicus brief arguing that any Terms of Service violation should be treated as a civil contract dispute rather than a crime. Which would significantly lessen the potential penalties.

For questions about internet security violations, Terms of Service, or for information about private investigations, contact The Wolfe Group.

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