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In the last category, few statutes have more potential than the ECPA. Patrick Leahy noted in 2013 was "no longer suited" to contemporary threats—courts have turned to a technologically unwieldy metaphor of "flight" to determine which interceptions occur “contemporaneously” with a message’s transmission and thus are covered by the statute.
ECPA was passed in 1986 as an amendment to the federal Wiretap Act, and, among other things, generally forbids the interception of electronic communications without the consent of a party to that communication. This definitional jig has meant webcam hacking victims are uncovered, with courts reluctant to take the sensible step of including webcam RAT spying under the act’s auspices.
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.
Employees then used the software to take webcam photographs, log messages, and capture screenshots, wrongly thinking the couple was behind on payments.
The jargon that ratters use underscores the power dynamic—ratted computers are called "slaves." reported, envisions indiscriminately infecting millions with malware that has the capability for remote video surveillance by webcam.
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.
A leading case illustrating the problems with the “in-flight” ECPA approach is , still-pending federal litigation over RAT spying conducted by rent-to-own computer stores franchised by Aaron’s, Inc.
Online, at places like Hack Forums.net, individuals, often men, trade and sell access to strangers' computers, often women, gained via RAT.The laptop, it turned out, had been stolen before she bought it, and it came equipped with a Remote Access Tool, or RAT.