How to win elections in the modern era: spreading the butter thin

Stewart Baker is wondering Did the President Win Re-Election by Violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

“It’s clever. It’s the future. And it’s a violation of the CFAA. Facebook doesn’t let users share access to their accounts, and anything Facebook doesn’t authorize is very likely a federal crime. (Because Facebook is limiting access to information, not just use of information, the conduct was very likely criminal even under the more limited construction of the CFAA adopted in the Ninth Circuit.)”

“Perhaps the campaign, or some official in the administration, checked quietly with Justice and got an assurance that its prosecutors would not inconvenience the campaign. Or perhaps the campaign thought about the risk and said, “Pff! Those guys work for us. They’ll never prosecute, especially if we win.” Or perhaps the Obama campaign went to Facebook and got a quiet waiver of the terms of service.”

This is just another front in a broad campaign of questionable tactics that often depended upon modern capabilities in information technologies. It fits in well with what is being learned about the IRS scandal that is spreading to links with the FEC and other organizations. Being able to find specific targets by culling a mass of information is what the NSA brouhaha is all about. It spreads the butter thin so each particular incident is minor and can be easily swept under the rug. After a while, the rug might get to be a bit elevated over the floor due to all the dirt under it but at least any particular incident can be easily minimized as non-consequential if taken out of context. The issue now that investigations are being conducted is whether or not the efforts to minimize the “phony scandals” will be accepted or not.

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