FALL 2007

Computer Law

Course No.  9200 711 001
Th 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Room W-214
Professor Jay Dratler, Jr.
Room 231D (IP Alcove)
(330) 972-7972
dratler@uakron.edu, dratler@neo.rr.com
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007   Jay Dratler, Jr.   For permission, see CMI.

Questions and Notes on Steve Jackson Games

1.  The ECPA has two chapters: Chapter 119, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510 -2521, and Chapter 121, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2712.  Both cover various type of communications. Generally speaking, Chapter 119 covers communications in transit, while Chapter 121 covers communictions in storage.  

2 .  Steve Jackson games involved private e-mail messages stored on a private computer, which the Secret Service Seized without complying with the Act's procedures.  Is the court right in concluding that the Secret Service, in seizing the computer and reviewing the messages on it, did not "intercept" those messages?  The court analogizes the case of United States v. Tank, in which authorities seized audio tapes from a car's trunk.  Is that case analogous?

3 .  Is the Steve Jackson court right in concluding that only Chapter 121, and not Chapter 119, was intended to covered stored communications such as e-mail?  In interpreting the statute, the court looks at the statute's plain language, congressional intent, the statute's organization, the interaction of its various provisions, and the differing penalties for violating the two chapters.  Which technique of statutory interpretation do you find most convincing?  Are you persuaded that no "interception" occurred?  The court suggests that the ECPA is hardly crystal clear.  Do you agree?

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