The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court on Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of an anti-hacking law, arguing it prevents academics and others from collecting data to investigate whether online algorithms may be discriminatory.
The lawsuit claims the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) infringes the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections of speech, the press, and a right to petition the government. It was brought by the ACLU on behalf of a group of university professors and First Look Media, which publishes the news site The Intercept, against U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The lawsuit was reviewed by Reuters.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has been routinely criticized in recent years by open internet advocates and civil libertarians, who say the 30-year-old statute is outdated, overly broad and carries excessively harsh penalties that often target nonmalicious behavior.