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There are counter-intuitive interpretations of aging electronic privacy statute passed before webcams were invented and a federal hacking law that offers a private individual the right to sue but imposes requirements on this right that exclude most victims of ratters. law and policy, though, can meaningfully improve the status quo and ensure that the public is protected.

Though the CFAA is foremost a criminal statute, meaning that prosecutors would have the power to decide when it is used, 1030(g) allows a private party to sue in a civil rather than a criminal proceeding, one that might conceivably offer refuge to victims of ratters.

But civil suits aren’t a straightforward course of action for victims either.

In 2009, when Susan Clements-Jeffrey purchased a used laptop from a student at the high school where she substitute taught, chances are she didn’t expect that the transaction would conclude with local police in her living room, laughing at her and calling her "stupid" while showing her explicit pictures of herself taken from her computer.

Later, at the police station, according to court documents, the abuse continued, with the men now calling her disgusting while reading from her private instant message chats.

(A related suit alleging RAT-enabled interception of privileged and confidential attorney work product is unfolding in Georgia.)* * *Another law integral to electronic privacy is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and, like ECPA, RATs were not considered when it was written.

The CFAA was initially passed, as the story goes, in 1983 when Ronald Reagan saw the hacking film Of particular importance here is Section 1030(g), the act’s private right of action.

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.

Courts, or the legislature, should abandon or retool the "in-flight" metaphor and understand snatched webcam photos as interceptions for the purposes of the statute.

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.

Ratting also raises constitutional and judicial process concerns, relating both to public access to democracy and to the strict warrant requirements regarding searches by the government of private individuals.

On a constitutional and procedural level, we should require that law enforcement hacking include automatic transparency, ban government webcam hacking, and be exacting in applying the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements.