Saturday, March 07, 2015

Don't use criminal law to enforce contract terms

A bill scheduled to be heard in the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee next week, HB 896 (Hernandez), revives the effort by internet service providers to get law enforcement to enforce their private consumer contracts, much the same way prosecutors did for payday lenders for many years before legislators and the courts (mostly) reined them in.

See the language of HB 896 - subsection 2(B) is the overbroad piece which needs to be deleted. But in years past, the bill's backers weren't willing to accept legislation without the broader provision - criminalizing terms-of-service violations in consumer contracts is really the main thing they're after, not preventing hacking, which is what 2(A) is primarily about.

I'd written about this bill in 2013, so rather than rehearse the arguments again, I'll refer readers to that post. The issues remain the same: Having cops and prosecutors enforce consumer contract terms amounts to over-criminalization and corporate welfare. Here's hoping the bill will be amended or die (again).


Simran said...

Contracts are merely civil, not criminal law should ever be included. Insane.

Anonymous said...

Texas, where the lege happily helps favored biz assure unearned profits (liquor whoresaling) and whack those who run afoul of contractual terms. This time no doubt in the name of 'cybersecurity'. What hogwash these guys put forth.

Anonymous said...

Not that it bothers the Lege much, but it's (TX) unconstitutional to enforce contracts with criminal penalties. Someone might want to inform Mr. Hernandez.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

got a reference on that, 6:11? And it's Ms. Hernandez.