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The Department of Justice, for its part, expended considerable effort in 2014 making vague arguments in support of expansions in Federal Bureau of Investigation ability to use malware, like RATs, for domestic law enforcement.There's a real threat of being watched and recorded where you live, and without your knowledge or consent.ECPA was passed in 1986 as an amendment to the federal Wiretap Act, and, among other things, generally forbids the interception of electronic communications without the consent of a party to that communication. This definitional jig has meant webcam hacking victims are uncovered, with courts reluctant to take the sensible step of including webcam RAT spying under the act’s auspices.A leading case illustrating the problems with the “in-flight” ECPA approach is , still-pending federal litigation over RAT spying conducted by rent-to-own computer stores franchised by Aaron’s, Inc.Together, with political will and popular support behind them, change in these areas would empower the public to better respond to ratters—whether individuals or government agents—and improve the privacy of millions.* * *Electronic privacy law in the United States is guided by the overlap of the Federal Trade Commission, state law, criminal procedure, executive order, and federal statute.

The federal government should clarify the definition of “interception” under Title I of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and reconsider the damages requirement for private claims in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in light of the often non-economic nature of privacy harms.

But even great privacy harms do not necessarily translate to dollars—what is the price of having your sex life mocked by strangers in your living room? —so the act ends up unable to protect many who might need it.

Amending the CFAA’s damages requirement to take into account the type of harms suffered by ratting victims would offer more people the ability to gain relief under the act’s provisions.

The intrusion, he told the The Byrds sued a number of parties associated with the incident, including the store and the manufacturer of the trojan. The same judge expressed skepticism that the messages and screenshots could have been “intercepted,” either, but still allowed debate of the issue in the case.

The litigation is still underway, but for now, the court's unwillingness to treat webcam snooping as protected under ECPA is a troubling but easily correctable deficiency in the law.