Why the Justice Department is unlikely to investigate the Supreme Court leak

Confidential information leaked.

Federal law criminalizes the unauthorized disclosure of national security secrets. In particular, it is an offense under the Espionage Act to disclose defense-related information to an unauthorized person who may be used to harm the United States or to assist a foreign opponent. Specific types of information – such as nuclear secrets, identities of secret agents and methods of monitoring intelligence communications – are protected separately by criminal law.

But the draft opinion on the abortion rights law is not a national security secret.

Leaking copies of documents that are not classified as theft of public property is a new step and is prohibited by the Department of Justice’s written policy. According to a prosecution manual, “a public servant aims to publicly disclose government documents obtained through legal or non-aggressive means for the theft.” There will be no criminal prosecution. “

There are other issues. Among other things, unlike the theft of direct goods, the “theft” statute does not apply to the act of obtaining copies of documents in full use by the real owner. In the private sector, intellectual property laws prohibit such illegal copying — but government documents are not protected by copyright.

Yes, there are many. All of this presents the novel and all sorts of issues in terms of leaks.

For example, some commentators have suggested legislation that would criminalize the disruption of official activities. But the path, among other challenges, depends on understanding what the impact of exposure – and the expected impact – will be, which remains a matter of wild speculation.

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Others refer to crimes beyond the scope of a legitimate computer. But there is nothing in the public records to indicate that hacking has taken place. Only last year, the Supreme Court reduced the scope of the law to exclude people who could legally access the system but could download content from it for unofficial purposes.

Interpreters also refer to the law that criminalizes the illegal deletion of legal records. It is not clear, however, whether the law covers conditions in which anyone copies is actually intact; In the 2014 DC case, a judge ruled that the law only criminalized “removal of information from public records.”

“Some people seem to be very angry about the leak, and they want it to be not only wrong, it’s illegal,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the federal government’s privacy program. Scientific American. “A lot of things that are illegal are wrong.”

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