The Cyberloquium blog was born out of a legal writing class that, at the time of this post, I am currently taking. The official title of the class is “Public Legal Writing: Blogging and Social Media for Law Students and Lawyers.” Our main project is to create and maintain a legal blog that fills a specific and unique niche. My initial instinct was to write about Internet or cyber law generally, but quickly realized that such a broad topic range would not be an exceptional contribution to the legal blogsphere. So I asked myself, “What exactly is cyberlaw?” If one were to peruse some of the well-known cyberlaw blogs, including the Berkman Center for Internet and Society or the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deep Links, they would find articles that range from privacy to copyright issues. Having been an adolescent in the ‘90s, the word ‘cyber,’ in association with other the words ‘law’ or ‘crime,’ possesses heavy connotations to hacking. I perceive ‘cybercriminals’ as unethical hackers who exploit, damage, and steal information on computer systems that they do not legitimately own or have privilege to. However, society has adapted the Internet in a way that almost all human interactions are capable of being conducted via a computer, and therefore the ways in which people may harm one another via computer has grown in tandem. As a natural result, new laws have popped up to deal with this unsavory behavior. Though in my mind, the misappropriation and/or misuse of information, obtained in an illegal manner via computer, remains the essence of cybercrime.
I decided to blog about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because when it was enacted in 1984, the CFAA was the first U.S. federal statute to directly address cybercrime. The CFAA encompasses a vast array of illegal activities involving computers, including consumer fraud, copyright violations, and even foreign espionage. This statutory law that is barely one year older than I am is conceivably one of the most important cyberlaws in the United States. Where the CFAA has failed to address certain topics, other laws have been passed to fill in the gaps, but the CFAA largely has remained unchanged in the past thirty-two years, with full potency.
Hundreds of lawsuits are filed each year under the provisions of the CFAA, and challenges to amend and/or narrow the statute is an ongoing battle. The arguments against the broad scope of the CFAA especially interest me because that breadth is what gives the statute so much power, and yet the net is so wide and vague that it occasionally is abused with frivolous cases against individuals who lack criminal intent. The power of the courts include the ability to narrow and clarify these statutes to avoid catching the human equivalent of dolphins in the fishing nets, but it is an imperfect practice as the circuit splits illustrate. My goal for this blog is to follow the ongoing developments surrounding the CFAA, legislatively, judicially, and socially.
“Ok, we get it, the CFAA is important—but why the name Cyberloquium?”
In the fall of 2014, I had the pleasure of attending the Technology Law Institute at the State Bar of Georgia. It was there, at 9 o’clock in the morning, that I first discovered two gregarious and witty law professors, Joe Miller and Christian Turner, who were presenting on the first panel of the day about applying existing law to new technologies. At the end of the panel, they mentioned in passing that they had a podcast about law and nerdy stuff called Oral Argument. The next day, I downloaded a few episodes of the OA podcast and listened to them banter with Steve Vladeck about federal courts while I completed chores around my apartment. I tweeted at them “You guys have been making my Saturday chores so much more enjoyable!” Much to my surprise, they mentioned my tweet on the next episode. The following January, I had an internship interview at the university where both Joe and Christian teach and decided to engage Christian about his thoughts on Internet law over coffee. This casual meeting launched a growing relationship would involve my periodic pestering of both Joe and Christian for life coaching and various advice. Over time, I became a dedicated OA fan(girl), recommending the show to likeminded nerdy types at every opportunity. When I first began listening, there were 38 episodes. I would re-listen to many of them, gradually working my way through the back catalog. Eventually I arrived at Episode Zero in which Joe inquired to Christian as to what he proposed their new podcast should be named, and Christian joked that it will be called “Cyberloquium.” Joe was horrified with this name and proclaimed, “I can’t possibly have agreed to participate in anything called that.”
At that moment, my mission was clear: Find a way to use the name Cyberloquium.
From a trademark standpoint, the name is perfect because it is both fanciful (cyberloquium does not have any other meaning) and suggestive (the word cyber implies a link to computers, but does not provide enough information on its own to tell you what a cyberloquium is without context). Before I registered the domain, I Googled ‘cyberloquium’ and found the only online references to it were on or around the Oral Argument podcast. Therefore, they had coined this fanciful term that they themselves did not intend to use, and no one else had yet to step up to the plate.
And thus, the Cyberloquium blog was born. Was this a wise choice? Only time will tell.