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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.

The final four members of a sexploitation gang that lured young girls into performing explicit acts in video chat rooms have been sentenced to over 100 years behind bars.

Justin Fuller, 37, of Modesto, California, was sentenced to 35 years; Virgil Napier, 54, of Waterford, Michigan, was given 20 years; John Garrison, 52, of Glenarm, Illinois, was sentenced to 35 years; and Thomas Dougherty, 54, of Vallejo, California, was handed down 26 years.

At issue are privacy harms suffered by Colorado residents Crystal and Brian Byrd at the hands of a RAT called PC Rental Agent.

In 2010, the Byrds purchased a computer from Colorado Aaron’s, Inc. According to the suit, the store installed a brand-name RAT on the couple’s computer without telling them.

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.

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.

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.

RATs are software that allow a third party to spy on a computer user from afar, whether rifling through messages and browsing activity, photographing the computer screen, or in many cases hijacking the webcam and taking photographs of whomever is on the other side.

RATs are widely used in a variety of contexts, some benign, others not. It’s hard to know how many RATs are out there because of their covert nature.

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