The Legal Implications of the Cardinals’ Alleged Hacking

The New York Times dropped a bombshell of a story Tuesday morning, reporting that the FBI is investigating whether front-office officials from the St. Louis Cardinals may have illegally hacked into the Houston Astros’ proprietary computer network. According to the Times, government officials believe that unnamed Cardinals employees may have accessed the Astros’ computers in order to retrieve the team’s internal trade discussions, proprietary statistics and scouting reports. The FBI has apparently traced the source of the hacking to a house shared by some Cardinals employees.

While some are understandably comparing Tuesday’s news to the NFL’s recent “SpyGate” scandal – in which the New England Patriots were accused of impermissibly videotaping the New York Jets coaches’ hand signals during a 2007 game – if true, the Cardinals’ alleged hacking would, of course, be much more serious. Beyond just league-imposed penalties, the hacking allegations carry the possibility of criminal prosecution, not just for the Cardinals employees involved in the breach, but potentially for the organization as a whole.

The primary law implicated by the Cardinals’ alleged hacking would appear to be the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA was originally passed back in 1984 to protect both the government and the financial industry from electronic espionage. The law was later expanded in 1996, however, to cover any unauthorized, remote access of another’s computer.

Under Section (a)(4) of the CFAA, anyone who “knowingly … accesses a protected computer without authorization” in order to “obtain[] anything of value” is subject to potential criminal liability for the hacking. Similarly, Section (a)(5)(B) of the law prohibits “intentionally access[ing] a protected computer without authorization,” should it result in any damage being inflicted on the computer’s owner.

These provisions would appear to apply to the Cardinals’ alleged hacking. As the Times reported:

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

So any Cardinals employees involved in the alleged hacking could potentially face criminal prosecution under the CFAA. Assuming that whichever employees are responsible for the breach have not been previously convicted for an earlier hacking offense, they would face a potential jail sentence of up to five years imprisonment, along with monetary fines potentially reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Notably, however, this maximum sentence would apply per offense, meaning that if the hackers were shown to have illegally accessed the Astros’ computers on more than one occasion, each separate intrusion would constitute a separate offense, each carrying a potential five-year jail sentence and monetary fine.

In addition to the CFAA, the alleged hacking may have also violated the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which criminalizes the theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The data allegedly accessed by the Cardinals would appear to satisfy the legal definition of a trade secret, which covers any information that provides a business with a competitive advantage over its competitors and is not generally known by the public (for example, the recipe for Coca-Cola). The Astros’ proprietary statistical analysis and internal scouting reports would almost certainly qualify as trade secrets under this definition.

As a result, the government could potentially choose to charge the perpetrators with criminal violations of the EEA as well. Under the EEA, anyone who steals, copies, or downloads someone else’s trade secret information without permission faces a monetary fine and possible jail sentence of up to 10 years in prison per offense.

Perhaps more significantly, however, the EEA would also potentially allow the government to charge the entire Cardinals organization with criminal activity. As Section (b) of the law provides, “Any organization that commits any offense described in subsection (a) shall be fined not more than $5,000,000.

In order to charge the entire organization with criminal activity, however, prosecutors would likely have to show that high-level Cardinals executives were aware of the hacking, or at least should have known that it was going on. If that is the case, then the entire team could face criminal prosecution. But if the hacking were simply carried out by a few lower-level team officials, without the knowledge of any higher-ups, then any organization-wide criminal case would be unlikely.

In addition to the potential criminal liability, the hacking could also of course result in potential civil liability as well. Under the CFAA, the victim of unauthorized hacking has a right to sue the perpetrator(s) for any financial damage that the unauthorized access may have caused. Meanwhile, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act authorizes the victims of trade secret theft to sue civilly as well.

That having been said, it is probably unlikely that the Astros would choose to file a civil lawsuit over the matter. Not only would it be difficult for the Astros to prove exactly how much the team had been harmed by the unauthorized access in monetary terms, but any lower-level Cardinals officials involved in the incident may very well lack the financial means to pay a sizeable damages award. Instead, the team will almost certainly defer to MLB to impose any sanctions on the Cardinals.

Nevertheless, MLB’s latest scandal is sure to keep plenty of attorneys busy for the foreseeable future.

 

 



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Nathaniel Grow is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. He is the author of Baseball on Trial: The Origin of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption, as well as a number of sports-related law review articles. You can follow him on Twitter @NathanielGrow. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not express the views or opinions of the University of Georgia.


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Hutch
Member
Hutch
11 months 12 days ago

Best Fans in Baseball©

Compton
Guest
Compton
11 months 12 days ago

But what do their fans have to do with this?

Paul
Guest
Paul
11 months 12 days ago

Nothing, but it’s still fun to joke about. All of the hyperbole about the classiest, best-run organization with the best fans makes for good fodder in times like this.

McNulty
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McNulty
11 months 12 days ago

The media sure loves to build something up just to tear it down later

BDJ
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BDJ
11 months 12 days ago

Hutch, you’re an idiot. This had nothing to do with fans.

Sgt. Hulka
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Sgt. Hulka
11 months 12 days ago

Lighten up, Francis.

captain obvious
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captain obvious
11 months 12 days ago

WE DON’T KNOW THAT YET

The next step may well be federal charges against the Cardinal fanbase, according to my speculation.

Oh please oh please

Freese_AEC
Guest
Freese_AEC
11 months 12 days ago

Yeah, like any fan would be crazy enough to carry out criminal hacking…

It’s a FELONY FRAUD.

Neil
Guest
Neil
11 months 12 days ago

Probability is high that the employees who hacked into the Astros network are fans of the Cardinals.

But in all seriousness...
Guest
But in all seriousness...
11 months 12 days ago

Best Hackers in Baseball

Neil
Guest
Neil
11 months 12 days ago

Not really they got caught, and did it from their home.

Brandon
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Brandon
11 months 12 days ago

Great article — thanks for getting this up so quickly. One thing: I believe the charge of espionage is actually punishable up to 15 years “(5) conspires with one or more other persons to commit any offense described in any of paragraphs (1) through (3), and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy,
shall, except as provided in subsection (b), be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.”

Ben
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Ben
11 months 12 days ago

Does MLB have the ability to impose postseason bans a la NCAA?

Paul G.
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Paul G.
11 months 12 days ago

I doubt that MLB would impose that no matter how deserving such a punishment would be. It makes a mockery of the pennant race. I suspect MLB would expel a team or force the owners to sell before resorting to this.

Nathan
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Nathan
11 months 12 days ago

Make them a AAA team next year and force them to charge AAA prices for tickets and TV rights.

Joboo's Rum
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Joboo's Rum
11 months 12 days ago

Maybe lose draft picks….

olethros
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olethros
11 months 12 days ago

Nope. CBA again.

some guy
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some guy
11 months 12 days ago

Except that the Commissioner’s Office could argue that it’s an “integrity of the game” issue and that it’s his issue alone to resolve. PA would argue it, but that’s what courts are for.

ChadT
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ChadT
11 months 12 days ago

10 years sounds about right…

Stelmacki
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Stelmacki
11 months 12 days ago

Bring on tears haters. Glad you guys finally found a crutch.

David
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David
11 months 11 days ago

So the Blue Jays have only just started their third term? Geez guys stop hacking.

Roger
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Roger
11 months 12 days ago

“it is probably unlikely that the Astros would choose to file a civil lawsuit over the matter”

Not sure why you’re already certain of this. I doubt they are, and I think there’s probably a strong deterrent value to going hard after the guilty parties using every available mechanism, no matter whether they have deep enough pockets to justify it on purely fiduciary grounds.

Terence
Member
Member
Terence
11 months 12 days ago

MLB does not want teams suing other teams. As long as MLB levies a harsh penalty on the Cardinals it’s really difficult to see the Astros taking this to court.

cass
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cass
11 months 12 days ago

MLB may not want it, but it happens anyway. The Nationals and Orioles have been suing each other over MASN, for example.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
11 months 12 days ago

“probably unlikely” is not “already certain”.

Lux
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Lux
11 months 12 days ago

I agree it’s unlikely the Astros would sue. To me, it seems possible they’d be inviting a countersuit for theft of Cardinals trade secrets by Luhnow in the first place.

It sounds like what happened was a Cardinals employee or employees went looking to see if Luhnow took the Cardinals’ database — either proprietary database software or, even worse, a database populated with data that he’d entered into the system while still with the Cardinals — with him to the Astros. The fact that the login info was the same may well be evidence that the Cardinals employees’ suspicion was right, and Luhnow did in fact just pick up the Cardinals’ database and move it over with him, not bothering to change so much as his password. If so, that could be grounds for a trade secret misappropriation case against him (as well as breach of contract for violating whatever nondisclosure clause he had with the Cardinals). That’s several ifs, but it seems plausible, and it would be a reason for the Astros not to push the civil suit tactic.

CJohnson in Austin TX
Guest
CJohnson in Austin TX
11 months 12 days ago

After Luhnow was hired, the Astros took their time to develop their own system from the bottom up. I recall he articles discussing the fact that the front office had to create their own system because they were precluded from duplicating any of the software in the Cardinals’ system (which they had helped create). Given that they were well aware of the sensitivity of the issue, I don’t think it’s probable at all that they just plopped the Cardinals’ software into the Astros’ system. If you have read any of the articles written about the Astros’ so-called mission control system, it indicates that the front office is proud of their system as state of the art and unique.

john
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john
11 months 12 days ago

that’s what you would say if asked isn’t it? As opposed to, I have an NDA I am violating to make the Astros better?

Stelmacki
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Stelmacki
11 months 12 days ago

It’s not unique. Ground Control is copied from the Cardinals.

WML
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WML
11 months 12 days ago

As a Cardinals fan, I don’t believe it should matter if Luhnow took the software with him even though I doubt that’s the case. And if Luhnow took information with him against any agreements to the contrary, this isn’t the way to go about “finding out”. I hope the upper levels of management knew nothing of the breach but if so, any punishment deemed necessary is welcomed.

CJohnson in Austin TX
Guest
CJohnson in Austin TX
11 months 11 days ago

None of us know if ground control is copied from the Cardinals. Both systems are proprietary,and there is no way for us to know. The Astros think their system is unique and cutting edge. Maybe they are right or wrong or its just a matter of opinion. But my response really goes to the absurd speculation that the Astros would simply install the Cardinals’ system and call it their own. The issue was sensitive and publicly acknowledged from the moment Luhnow was hired. That kind of action would be too obvious and risky. If there is any software infringement, it’s likely to be more subtle. And if the Astros had done what was suggested,they certainly wouldn’t be inviting the Houston Chronicle and Sports Illustrated to write articles about their system.

Tim
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Tim
11 months 11 days ago

I have difficulty believing that someone who was capable of putting together a unique and cutting edge system would reuse passwords from his previous employer.

Billy
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Billy
11 months 12 days ago

What level of awareness from STL execs would constitute sufficient awareness of the crime such that the whole organization (and not just the low-level hackers) would face legal/civil/league penalties?

Chicago Mark
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Chicago Mark
11 months 12 days ago

Excellent Nathaniel! Not certain your knowledge of MLB workings. Or to the general respondents here. But in addition to legal actions, what do you think the Cardinals as an organization will lose from MLB? Draft picks? Money? Ben above is funny of course. But MLB will almost certainly do something to the organization. Thoughts all?

Quaker
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Quaker
11 months 12 days ago

Ben’s comment isn’t “funny” in the least. A post-season ban should be on the table if the organization is found at fault.

And they most certainly will be losing numerous draft picks.

Jim S.
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Jim S.
11 months 12 days ago

Yes, absolutely: a post-season ban.

Chicago Mark
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Chicago Mark
11 months 12 days ago

It’s hilarious Quaker. Although this alone hurts the sport considerably, taking anyone out of the playoffs would be even more harmful. Someone above mentioned the CBA in this discussion (playoff ban). The CBA would be very much involved as it would effect so much. Prospect call-ups would be one thing. And they aren’t even a part of the CBA. Free agent signing and just so much else. Not to mention the Cardinals need to be competitive every game. It’s a can of worms that is left unopened. It shouldn’t, and won’t be considered.

theo epsteins left nut
Guest
theo epsteins left nut
11 months 12 days ago

im a cubs fan and i think the only way a postseason ban would be fitting would be if literally every member of the front office knew about this and encouraged it. otherwise i think 2 first rounders and 5 years of competitive balance picks would suffice along with hefty fines.

Al Dimond
Guest
11 months 12 days ago

Yeah, this isn’t like college. In college sports postseason selection systems are designed around huge talent disparities and the meaninglessness of straight-up records. If SMU football collapses in disgrace it’s only really a crisis in Waco; hopelessly uncompetitive and collapsing MLB teams have created crises for the whole league.

Death To Flying Things
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Death To Flying Things
11 months 11 days ago

“If SMU football collapses in disgrace it’s only really a crisis in Waco…”

No. SMU is in Dallas. Baylor is in Waco. Waco has enough to live down without having to answer for SMU.

Al Dimond
Guest
11 months 11 days ago

Sorry. I guess it’s not even a crisis in Dallas, which has plenty else going on.

TKDC
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TKDC
11 months 12 days ago

No it shouldn’t. A postseason ban has never really even been discussed for any violation in a major U.S. sport (right?). The punishment will be some sort of fine (hopefully heavy) and some form of draft pick/pool money deduction.

And they should ban the hackers for life from baseball.

John Mozeliak
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John Mozeliak
11 months 12 days ago

Meh, what do we care about a few draft picks? We get two first rounders every year anyway.

Mike G
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Mike G
11 months 12 days ago

I’d guess if anyone in a management position is found to know of or encourage this, then not only would they be banned for life (along with anyone else involved) from MLB but the team would likely face league punishment. Something to the effect of several million in fines plus the lost of 2 1st round draft picks. I’m not favor of a postseason ban unless there’s clear evidence that they hacked the Astros multiple times and that it goes all the way up the chain.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
11 months 12 days ago

Heard it on the radio today for an idea. Can you strip them of the revenue sharing they get for that year, or at least part of it?

magichat#9
Guest
magichat#9
11 months 12 days ago

“it is probably unlikely that the Astros would choose to file a civil lawsuit over the matter.” This has to be dealt with already in the MLB franchising agreements not to file civil suits against other teams or their employees. I can’t imagine there would be any room here for a civil case, irregardless of the other reasons listed here.

Jake in Pittsburgh
Guest
Jake in Pittsburgh
11 months 12 days ago

My sense is that they’d stay out of civil court because that would open both parties up to discovery, and neither the Astros nor the Cards will want to open up everything. Everyone will be content to keep it in-house and let MLB handle it.

In the same way, everyone will plead out on the criminal side (although the Cardinals fines could be significant in the exchange) to avoid the same thing.

Bottom line: No one will want this to see the light of day, so everyone will be looking to cut a deal, both with DOJ on the criminal side and through MLB on the civil side.

magichat#9
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magichat#9
11 months 12 days ago

I don’t think it is a question of opting to handle it in-house. I’d bet $16 that both teams are bound by MLB contracts to handle such disputes in-house. So, it isn’t about whether they want to open it up or not, it is about whether they can use the legal system against other teams–I bet the MLB has already preempted this option.

Cornflake5000
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Cornflake5000
11 months 12 days ago

“irregardless”???

magichat#9
Guest
magichat#9
11 months 12 days ago

Never been to the Midwest have ya?

The Ancient Mariner
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The Ancient Mariner
11 months 11 days ago

“Unthawed” is another gem.

Anon21
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Anon21
11 months 12 days ago

A year or so in prison is probably a realistic assessment of the actual exposure the perpetrators face, based on recent similar cases.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 12 days ago

Is Fredbird going to prison?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
11 months 12 days ago

No, because he supports the boys in blue.

#policelivesmatter

Green Mountain Boy
Guest
Green Mountain Boy
11 months 12 days ago

“Under Section (a)(4) of the CFAA, anyone who “knowingly … accesses a protected computer without authorization” in order to “obtain[] anything of value” is subject to potential criminal liability for the hacking. Similarly, Section (a)(5)(B) of the law prohibits “intentionally access[ing] a protected computer without authorization,” should it result in any damage being inflicted on the computer’s owner.”

If this were true, the entire NSA would be behind bars.

Freddy
Guest
Freddy
11 months 12 days ago

The key is the phrase anything of value. A webcam of you fapping in your parent’s basement is not anything of value so nobody goes to jail.

*you in the general sense of idiots that actually think their stupid little meaningless lives are worth complaining about the NSA illegally viewing, not you specifically

Cellar-door
Member
Cellar-door
11 months 12 days ago

The NSA has authorization from Congress.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals
Guest
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
11 months 11 days ago

No, they really don’t.

Chris
Guest
Chris
11 months 12 days ago

While everyone is understandably focused on the baseball ramifications of this, I noticed two things:

1) Luhnow, dude, you really use the same password everywhere? In 2015? I’d like to point you to 1Password or LastPass. Some very basic OpSec here would have went a long way.

2) Cardinals, dudes, have you not heard of Tor? Did it not occur you to you to at least go to your local coffee shop and use the free wifi? The fact that this was traced backed to their house, well, I’m just speechless.

And finally, while I guess the definition of hacking includes using old passwords, this is the loosest definition yet of hacking. It feels more like unauthorized access. Then again, US courts have said that incrementing a variable in a public URL can be considered hacking, so…

thecodygriffin
Member
thecodygriffin
11 months 12 days ago

On your last point, what they did would be considered social hacking if I am not mistaken.

frivoflava29
Member
frivoflava29
11 months 12 days ago

Social engineering, yes

Tesseract
Guest
Tesseract
11 months 12 days ago

Chris you bring a valid point but think about it, you probably use the same password for your social media/email/etc. And even if you don’t probably 90% of the people do, with the exception of their bank accounts. Also I’m sure this happened like this: one STL executive was sitting at home thinking about how and why Luhnow left the Cardinals, and he was pissed, looking at old files in his computer when he came across a master password file, and then proceeded to try it out and next thing you know it worked!! He got so excited and started downloading stuff. Do you think the thought of legal actions crossed his mind at the moment? Seriously, it is pretty easy to judge after the fact but fill in their shoes first (not saying what they did was right but I see why it happened)

Scott
Guest
Scott
11 months 12 days ago

Tess, while your scenario could be close, bottom line is that as soon as the Cardinal org/mgmt became aware, they should have shut down the hack ops and ordered a purge of all the info gleaned.

And then prayed that no one found out.

Having scouting reports and internals about potential trades was of minimal value and certainly not worth the risk. As they are now finding out.

Tim
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Tim
11 months 11 days ago

There’s some problem with the Cardinals’ security there too. They shouldn’t have access to anyone’s unencrypted passwords.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 12 days ago

1. Lunhow: yes
2. “Cardinals”: no, Cardinals employee. Not certain how much involvement the upper management had. If they did have a role, you’d think they’d tell them how to mask their identity a little better. Maybe ask the IT director…?

Al Dimond
Guest
11 months 11 days ago

Re #2: Depending on how conspiratorial you’re feeling, maybe not. If I was the leader of an organization and wanted to do some shady stuff I’d be thinking about when we got caught, not if. That means plausible deniability. Make sure there’s nothing pointing back to me, and that I know as little as possible, but the guy that does it should leave an easy trail back to himself. He’ll do that because we’ll have a handshake agreement that if he keeps me looking clean I’ll take care of him, probably under the table.

perhaps they got it from lastpass
Guest
perhaps they got it from lastpass
11 months 12 days ago

This, Also they said they had a list of his passwords… In case he incremented the number by one each three months.

theo epsteins left nut
Guest
theo epsteins left nut
11 months 12 days ago

he had to actively seek out the database. its not like he just signed on to a lap top luhnow left out.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G
11 months 12 days ago

So far this sounds like a lone wolf. Likely a low level employee. I have to think anyone high enough in the Cardinals organization wouldn’t be this stupid. But I’ll reserve judgement until all the evidence is presented.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
11 months 12 days ago

I don’t know about that, everything in the original story says “employees” in reference to who did it and where they lived.

Evan
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Evan
11 months 12 days ago

Why would a low level employee have had access to the passwords that Luhnow used when he was with the Cardinals?

Jacob
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Jacob
11 months 11 days ago

Boom

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 11 days ago

you don’t think the IT director would be considered low-level, especially compared to General Manager or Scouting Director?

perhaps a lower IT employee who had some other legitimate reason to access the password list?

frivoflava29
Member
frivoflava29
11 months 12 days ago

Lastpass was actually just hacked. No, I’m not joking, it’s all over tech news right now.

Evan
Guest
Evan
11 months 12 days ago

Except the only information taken was information related to your Lastpass account, such as email addresses, without any of the passwords it protects being compromised.

Plucky
Guest
Plucky
11 months 12 days ago

The whole point of this article is that, as far as the law is concered “unauthorized access” = “hacking” BY DEFINITION. In collocquial usage, “hacking” implies some amount of technical sophistication whereas “unauthorized access” does not, but the law makes no such distiction. This is not a matter of law enforecement stretching an ill-defined term, but rather that the law itself defines things differently than collocquial usage.

dude abides
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dude abides
11 months 12 days ago

“would have *gone”
“was traced *back”

Brett
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Brett
11 months 12 days ago

To your 2nd point: this is what makes me believe it was a rogue employee. If the higher-up executives really wanted to do this, I believe they would have done their due diligence on the potential of this being traced back to them.

Reade King
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Reade King
11 months 12 days ago

Regarding 2: the better suggestion here is coffee shop wifi. We users have no idea whether or not a url masking device or software actually doesn’t keep track of the originating computer’s url somewhere, and whether or not the FBI can see through that artifice.

*BG*
Guest
*BG*
11 months 12 days ago
MG
Guest
MG
11 months 12 days ago

Hopefully MLB, as part of any penalty package on the Cards, bans Mozeliak’s predilection for bow ties, too.

shaqlvaney
Guest
shaqlvaney
11 months 12 days ago

Since we initially learned about this as a data dump posted anonymously online last year, how did we get there from today’s revelations that it was cardinals employees hacking into the Astro’s system? Why would someone stealing trade secrets go on to then make them publicly available?

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 12 days ago

makes one wonder if the intent was to gain an advantage or to make the Astros look bad. If it was to gain a competitive advantage, you keep it quiet. If it’s too give the Astros bad press, then you go to the press.

Pretty obvious which one it is

Tesseract
Guest
Tesseract
11 months 12 days ago

My guess is that they did not make them public, the information leaked out, and the Astros called the FBI to start an investigation (I remember this). The FBI then found the IP address was from a house owned/rented by a Cardinals employee.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 12 days ago

so you think that there were multiple hackers and the Cardinals’ employee was the only one who could be traced? I wonder if other teams have been able to hack the Astros.

bobbybonilla
Guest
bobbybonilla
11 months 12 days ago

It seems pretty unlikely since the Cardinals just tried to use the same passwords Luhnow had when he was on the team.

It would seem that other teams wouldn’t have that information.

mutantbeast
Guest
mutantbeast
11 months 12 days ago

The Cards apparentlyed a list of psswords Luhnow and several other employees apparently left behind. so the only computers theyd been able to access were ones where the passwords would work.

Darkstone42
Member
Darkstone42
11 months 12 days ago

If defamation was the motivation, that would answer your question, and there is some speculation that this was motivated by revenge, so they very well may have just leaked the information to make the organization look bad.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Eh, SpyGate was wayyyyyy worse. The Pats cheated on the field.

Freddy
Guest
Freddy
11 months 12 days ago

Agreed it’s worse in terms of affecting the game yes, not in terms of real world crime. My little opinion is if this is true here’s where it would rank in the order of worst cheating of a pro sport:

1. Obtaining an illegal roster you shouldn’t have by cheating the salary cap (49ers paying free agents under the table to bring in an all-pro defense to buy the 1994 championship for Steve Young).

2. Illegally knowing the other team’s plays (Spygate).

3. Illegally being better than your natural talent (PEDs).

4. Illegally messing with another team’s strategy (hacking the Astros).

Tesseract
Guest
Tesseract
11 months 12 days ago

I think Match fixing trumps your #1. But other than that you are right

Erik
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Erik
11 months 12 days ago

Surely there is room for deflate gate on here. I’d say it at least has to jump up to #3.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G
11 months 12 days ago

Interesting that you put the one scandal that possibly involves jail time and FBI subpoenas at the bottom of your list.

Voxx
Guest
Voxx
11 months 12 days ago

To be fair, the legal ramifications are completely separate from the impact they have on the field/within the sport.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Yup. That’s the correct ordination.

Cellar-door
Member
Cellar-door
11 months 12 days ago

Except doesn’t #4 basically include #2? I mean I would guess that having access to all of a team’s scouting data in baseball has a much more significant impact than knowing some of an opponent’s signs. You are talking about player evaluations, pitch sequencing, scouting etc. You not only know what they want to do when they are pitching to you, you also know where they see internal weaknesses, you know what they value their prospects at for trade negotiations, you know who they are scouting that maybe you missed, you find out their proprietary analysis which they paid a lot of money for and can use it to help your own team on the field. It’s a much broader violation that leads to on-field impact for years, rather than just single games.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 11 days ago

But it’s abstract, rather than concrete impact. It’s way worse in “real world” morality, but it doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad in “sports” morality.

Brian
Guest
Brian
11 months 12 days ago

I’m a Cardinals fan, and I hate to say it, but that’s not a fair depiction of Spygate.

From the Wikipedia page – “Spygate refers to an incident during the… 2007 season when the New England Patriots were disciplined by the league for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals during a September 9, 2007 game. Videotaping opposing coaches is not illegal in the NFL but there are designated areas allowed by the league to do such taping. The Patriots were videotaping the Jets’ coaches from their own sideline which is not allowed… Nearly six months after the incident, the Boston Herald reported, citing an unnamed source, that the Patriots had also videotaped the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough practice prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, an allegation… later retracted by the Herald.”

In other words, one of the more overblown “scandals” in sports history.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Dude, if they did it against a shitty Jets team, they definitely did it against your Rams.

When you have Rams players taking about how Belichick was expecting and countering plays that they had never run before the pre-SB practices, there’s a lot of fucking smoke to be claiming there’s no fire.

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
11 months 11 days ago

Dude, were the expletives really necessary? Edgy!

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 11 days ago

We’re all adults here, right?

Also, “shitty” is the only correct adjective to describe Mangini’s Jets teams.

Billy
Guest
Billy
11 months 12 days ago

I’m not really sure how that’s worse. The Pats were cheating for a game (maybe two per year). The Cards are potentially undermining and stealing ideas/property from an organization in a way that could hinder their ability to compete in general. And they broke federal law to do it. The Cards will be lucky if their punishment matches the Pats – it ought to be amplified greatly.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G
11 months 12 days ago

Spygate is really a terrible analog for this. This is really closer to Watergate.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
11 months 12 days ago

“Closer to Watergate. ”

And now we’ve gone off the deep end.

Harriet
Guest
Harriet
11 months 12 days ago

My first thought was Benghazi tbh.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G
11 months 11 days ago
Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Maybe two per year? Hahahahahahaha

If they were doing that against Mangini’s garbage Jets team, they were doing it against every single team they had ever played in the Belichick era.

There’s a reason why Mangini knew they were taping him, and why he knew where to point them.

If they were doing that against the fucking Jets, then they did it against the Rams, Panthers and Eagles.

There’s a reason Goodell kept the results of their investigation hush-hush.

Deelron
Member
Deelron
11 months 12 days ago

I doubt the other cartel members are going to see it that way, cheating (not fixing) on the field hasn’t really bothered the owners all that much, materially causing harm or stealing trade secrets by illicitly connecting to a network from a fellow cartel member is a whole different deal.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Yeah, that’s the real distinction, here.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
11 months 12 days ago

I’m not sure if this is sarcastic, but since the replies seem genuine, I’m going to have to ask why cheating on the field is worse?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

I just see a distinction between the game and the business of professional sports.

While it’s probably worse objectively to cheat at the business of pro sports, I personally find it far more morally repugnant to cheat at the game.

I don’t care about these guys improving efficiency or whatever through illicit means. Nothing those assholes on the Cards did affected the performance of any player on the field.

To be analogous to SpyGate, they’d need a guy with a telescope in left or right center to radio the pitch and location into the hitters’ ears.

Metsfan
Guest
Metsfan
11 months 12 days ago

You really can’t say that without knowing the full extent of what information the Cardinals employees had access to. For example, it’s reasonable to assume organizations have more comprehensive information on their own players’ weaknesses and foibles than competing clubs do. If the Cards got access to some of this information on Astros players, they could theoretically have used it for game day on-the-field advantages that impacted the outcomes of those games. This is in addition to such information potentially providing the Cards with long-term strategic advantages when it comes to trades, drafts, and various other transactions.

We really don’t know enough about the hacking yet to make such a broad statement.

theo epsteins left nut
Guest
theo epsteins left nut
11 months 12 days ago

im assuming they had access to all information as using luhnows passwords should get them in to anything. also it could greatly effect trade discussions knowing who and what has been offered, knowing the players in the minors they covet. this has a incredible amount of long term benefit had it not been discovered.

Erik
Guest
Erik
11 months 12 days ago

It could also theoretically have suppressed the value of some free agents.

Curacao LL
Member
Curacao LL
11 months 12 days ago

A loosely-similar case in Formula 1 saw the sanctioning body level a $100 million fine.

Nick
Guest
Nick
11 months 12 days ago

I think we underestimate the tech-related ignorance of the average person when we figure people will know better than to hack a competitor from their home office. Even in upper management, people don’t fully understand how much Big Brother we’ve currently got in place as a society.

I can’t help but think about the Patriots here. People have been wondering how the Cardinals are doing what they do for a long time. Or to be more accurate, people–especially media people–have been complimenting them as a genius front office for a long time. This won’t change that. The Patriots have proven that nobody remembers or really cares if you cheat, so long as you win. The media will cover this story but soon after return to praising everything the Cardinals do.

anon
Guest
anon
11 months 12 days ago

implying that the cardinals are spying on everybody… so your theory is that the GMs of all 29 other teams have been occasionally leaving their passwords lying around the cardinals’ offices? or that the cardinals have a sophisticated hacking operation but in this one case did it in a comically ham-fisted way?

this has been a pretty funny comment section all around.

anon
Guest
anon
11 months 12 days ago

guh, formatted wrong. anyway, i’m making fun of Nick’s statement, “People have been wondering how the Cardinals are doing what they do for a long time.”

Erik
Guest
Erik
11 months 12 days ago

They hit around .330 with runners in scoring position for an entire season. They won a world series with a bunch of shitty players in ’06… People have been wondering…

This is not to say that the Cardinals have done anything wrong or been anything less than fortunate, but people will wonder when things like this come out.

Just like with the Patriots, with their continued success. It’s no wonder they have been caught cheating twice now. When all the rules make it impossible for teams to separate from the pack in the long run, it only makes sense that the teams that do follow a philosophy of cheating, especially when they’ve already been caught.

anon
Guest
anon
11 months 12 days ago

haha ok man

Jim
Guest
Jim
11 months 12 days ago

“They hit around .330 with runners in scoring position for an entire season. They won a world series with a bunch of shitty players in ’06… People have been wondering…”

You’ve got to be kidding me? This comment section as a whole reminds me of Yahoo or some Celeb trash website.

Felix
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Felix
11 months 12 days ago

A sure fire HoFer, a handful of borderline HoFers, and a group of solid role players is a “bunch of shitty players” nowadays?

circlechange11
Guest
circlechange11
11 months 12 days ago

The 06 team was basically the same players as the 04 and 05 teams (that won more games than any other team). In 06 they only won 86 games because of injuries and got healthy at playoff time. They replaced isringhausen with some kid named Wainwright.

Paul T.
Guest
Paul T.
11 months 12 days ago

Given the potential legal liability, when dealing with the Feds, the organization should really show all of its Cards.

CKrome
Guest
CKrome
11 months 12 days ago

Someone on sports radio here suggested holding back a big chunk of the Cards’ revenue-sharing $$ as a punishment … maybe something like that could work?

John Mozeliak
Guest
John Mozeliak
11 months 12 days ago

Paying a large fine, losing draft picks, seeing the look on Jeff Luhnow’s face when he realized we knew everything from how they were going to pitch us to who they were looking to trade for – priceless.

Jeff Nowitzki
Guest
Jeff Nowitzki
11 months 12 days ago

Is there any chance that Dan Kantrovitz was involved and this ends up extending to Oakland?

Dan Rausch
Member
Dan Rausch
11 months 12 days ago

At this point does the FBI have to prosecute? Or now that the Astros have determined that the perpetrators fall within the MLB umbrella, can they ask the FBI to ignore/drop charges and just have the commissioner’s office handle the penalties?

Neil
Guest
Neil
11 months 12 days ago

MLB is waiting for the FBI investigation to finish, and no, the Cardinal employees committed a felony. MLB is not going to get in way of the feds prosecuting a felony.

Canocorn
Guest
Canocorn
11 months 12 days ago

Assuming this all pans out that the Cardinals organization actually did this, I would think that the Astros and potentially any of the other organizations whose communications were breached have a potentially very large civil lawsuit. But not against the individuals who did this. I’d think you’d file the suit against the organization because the perpetrators were acting as agents of the organization. They could break the organization if they choose to do so. I’m not sure if the MLB Constitution addresses civil actions between franchises, but I think the maximum fine Manfred can levy is $2M. That seems like a slap on the wrist for corporate espionage.

mutantbeast
Guest
mutantbeast
11 months 12 days ago

Indeed. tha why I think he should the types olf precedents Goodell and his predecessors like Bowie Kuhn nd Bart Giamatti used when addressing off-the field issues. A serious breachlike this should require serious punishments.

Clock
Guest
Clock
11 months 12 days ago

“Under Section (a)(4) of the CFAA, anyone who ‘knowingly … accesses a protected computer without authorization’ in order to ‘obtain[] anything of value’ is subject to potential criminal liability for the hacking. Similarly, Section (a)(5)(B) of the law prohibits ‘intentionally access[ing] a protected computer without authorization,’ should it result in any damage being inflicted on the computer’s owner.'”

Does this mean every time my facebook page got hacked by my friends, it was a crime and I should be holding it against them as blackmail?

pft
Guest
pft
11 months 12 days ago

Key word, anything of “value”

Paul T.
Guest
Paul T.
11 months 11 days ago

Naw. The Astros wouldn’t be able to show any meaningful damages, as this article mentioned.

Paul T.
Guest
Paul T.
11 months 11 days ago

My bad. Replied to be wrong post.

Buford
Guest
Buford
11 months 12 days ago

If the Cardinals intent was to acquire Houston’s proprietary information to benefit the Cardinals, why would the Cardinals release it to the public so that the other 28 teams would also have access to it? It seems like a couple of nitwits just wanted to embarrass Houston by showing Houston’s shortcomings regarding internet security.

mutantbeast
Guest
mutantbeast
11 months 12 days ago

Because the Astros caught them first.so they put it out there and claimed it was “public formation”. s I said before, MLB security thought this was serious enough to bypass a local or even Federal prosecutor and go straight to the FBI.

Metsfan
Guest
Metsfan
11 months 12 days ago

You don’t know that ALL the information obtained in the hack was released to the public. You can’t assume that. I’m sure this is one of the things the FBI will be trying to ascertain.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that because they broke a federal law, intent may not mitigate the consequences of those actions much, if at all. It would probably be much different if this were limited to a MLB investigation where Manfred has the power as commissioner to interpret and apply intent as he sees fit in very subjective ways.

pft
Guest
pft
11 months 12 days ago

This goes way beyond any transgression by a player over steroids or a team tampering. The officials involved should be banned for life, and if the team owner knew the team should be banned from the post season for 3 years and there should be a hefty fine, perhaps even the loss of next years first round pick. There will also be jail terms as a result of the criminal prosecution as pointed out in the article.

It would be a lesser crime IMO if they did not go public with what they obtained from the break in, but serious enough in its own right.

mutantbeast
Guest
mutantbeast
11 months 12 days ago

The Cards look BAD on this. Just for comparisons sake, Theo Epstien went to the Cubs in 2011 and no one accused the Red Sox of hacking the Cubs computers, nior when AJ Preller left the Rangers for San Diego has anyone accused them of hacking into the Padres computers. Seems more like the Cards front office was worried about losing Luhnow and his excellent track record, and wanted to access it as much as possible. Believe me, this is FAR worse than Pete Rose or A Roid. MLB security(run by a former Secret Service supervisor) felt compelled to call in the FBI? If the Cards indeed were involved in hacking, serious consequences need to result.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 12 days ago

Dude, this doesn’t compare to betting on a game you were managing.

Read more closely
Guest
Read more closely
11 months 12 days ago

“Seems more like the Cards front office was worried about losing Luhnow and his excellent track record…”

Not according to the article you just read. In the article it says:

“Investigators believe Cardinal officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords, etc….”

So in the opinion of the investigators (not me, not the NY Times, not some PR functionary from Cardinal front office) the Cardinals illegally tried to retrieve proprietary Cardinal information stolen by Luhnow when he left for Houston.

Doesn’t change the legality of the Cardinal hacking one iota, but it makes for a *much* more interesting story.

Read more closely
Guest
Read more closely
11 months 12 days ago

Sorry; should’ve said “…Cardinals illegally tried to retrieve what they *believed* rightly or wrongly to be proprietary information stolen by Luhnow when he left for Houston.”

Important distinction. ;)

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
11 months 12 days ago

Not really.

The entire point of hiring him was he had a system in place that could bring results, more or less based on his previous experience with St. Louis. Unless it was patented or some other agreement, that he more or less did what their formulas are…. is pretty standard procedure when someone jumps ship.

busy scouting t-ball
Guest
busy scouting t-ball
11 months 11 days ago

Proprietary means they owned it. However from everything ive read and heard he built a new system from scrap. Of course they most likely look similar as most do. The true intent won’t be distinguished until after the investigation. At this point it is just speculation either way.

IDrago
Member
IDrago
11 months 11 days ago

That’s not how this works. You don’t have to patent trade secrets. Stealing trade secrets is not “pretty standard procedure.” Why are you offering conclusions about things you don’t understand? Maybe the Cardinals are lying about why their guys broke into the Astros’ system, and even if they’re telling the truth it may not matter much, but intellectual property law is not as rigid as you seem to think.

Random StL fan
Guest
Random StL fan
11 months 12 days ago

1)Prosecute all offenders to the full extent of the law.

2)Ban every perpetrator from MLB employment for life — and even from attending games if at all plausible.

3)Fire any employee/official at any level with knowledge of the hacking who failed to report.

4)Fine the club in the low-to-mid eight figures. Say $30,000,000.

That’s my wish list.

John Elway
Member
11 months 12 days ago

This is the biggest test for any sports commissioner ever. Because you have to make a strong enough punishment, but I can’t see shutting down the St. Louis Cardinals. Draft picks just won’t cut it here.

Joe Montana
Guest
Joe Montana
11 months 12 days ago

I neighhhhhver thought I’d see you again!

Larry Bernandez
Guest
Larry Bernandez
11 months 12 days ago

Of all teams they could have hacked, why pick the Astros?

danny c
Guest
danny c
11 months 12 days ago

because the astors are likely the most experimental team in baseball and could have stored data that gives away their most exclusive advantages.

Joe Joe
Guest
Joe Joe
11 months 12 days ago

Astros are not the most experimental. The Astros are more engineers than scientists. They let someone else experiment and handle the R&D costs. Once something is shown to work by another team, they optimize it even if the optimal level requires the balls for complete change from normal operations that on face value is madness.

baubo
Guest
baubo
11 months 11 days ago

The simpler answer is probably because they simply have Ludnow’s old passwords. If Ludnow went to another team, that team would’ve likely been the victim of the hacking.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
11 months 12 days ago

Does anyone buy the Cardinal’s story that they were looking for trade secrets and methods Jeff Luhnow took out the backdoor when he exited for the Astros.

Buck Rotgut
Guest
Buck Rotgut
11 months 12 days ago

I blame Hillary.

undetermined
Guest
undetermined
11 months 12 days ago

I think they should take away their competitive balance picks. Hahahahahaha

Ron Santo's Ghost
Guest
Ron Santo's Ghost
11 months 11 days ago

The Cards have already been caught stealing several times this season. Won’t having “prior” mean they’re more likely to get a maximum sentence?

Sut
Guest
Sut
11 months 11 days ago

I think there are some Cardinals fans doing some gallows humor and other low information fans laughing at the idea of hacking the Astros.

I think this hits home when sooner rather than later, St. Louis Cardinals front office staff are escorted out in handcuffs.

I think that’s what this leak and NYT story prepared us for.

Johnny Ringo
Guest
11 months 11 days ago

It would cause tremendous damage if anyone even considered keeping the Cards out of the postseason because of this.

The players didn’t do this, nor should they, or the fans, be punished for it.

(coming from a Cubs fan, no less)

Jacob
Guest
Jacob
11 months 11 days ago

It’s a team sport, buddy. That’s the way life goes.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
11 months 11 days ago

so if a tennis player’s or golfer’s manager/agent hires a temp worker to compile data on something and the temp worker hacks something on his own, those players are in the clear because they play individual sports?

Michael
Guest
Michael
11 months 11 days ago

I wouldn’t be happy with this if I were Rob Manfred. Part of the problem is a systemic thing when employees move within industries–they almost have to be taking confidential information with them, even if they don’t apply it. Given that MLB has supported the movement of administrative personnel, particularly when they saw a need (Theo to Chicago, for example) this is probably an area that people would like very much not to have discussed openly. But hacking/use of confidential information, etc. is potentially quite serious, and need to be investigated. Good piece by Nathanial

Rallyk
Member
Rallyk
11 months 11 days ago

Don’t ban them from the postseason. Instead the Cardinals should be forced to play their home playoff games in Houston.

Death To Flying Things
Guest
Death To Flying Things
11 months 11 days ago

Actually, how fun would it be if the Cardinals and Astros square off in this year’s World Series?

mch38
Member
mch38
11 months 11 days ago

Can I sue the Cardinals saying the Astros were interested in signing me this past offseason but the Cardinals tampered with my scouting report and now I want reparations for my not getting signed?

Roger Goodell
Guest
Roger Goodell
11 months 11 days ago

Suspend Tom Brady, fine the New England Patriots and takeaway a 1st round pick seems like the best way to punish the Cardinals.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
11 months 11 days ago

Oh, the poor, poor, persecuted Patriots.

CFAA
Guest
CFAA
11 months 11 days ago

Per your link Paul, as updated through 2015, as I read it,the CFAA addresses government computers, computers of financial institutions and protected computers. The definition of a protected computer is (1) one used by or for a financial institution or the Government or (2)
one used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication.
The Astros’ computers clearly do not fall under the first definition and could only be construed to fall under the second if their use could be construed as interstate or foreign commerce. Similarly the Economic Espionage Act is targeted towards interstate or foreign commerce.

Would baseball trades/drafts be considered commerce? Per the DOL, Interstate commerce refers to the purchase, sale or exchange of commodities, transportation of people, money or goods, and navigation of waters between different states. Note it talks about the transportation of people (like buses, planes, etc.) not the trading of people.

Bottom line, is that I am not sure that either of these acts were intended to address the using of old passwords to access a former employee’s “new” database concerning the merits of baseball trades or draft picks.

Is this really the best legal hook that the FBI can rely on?

IDrago
Member
IDrago
11 months 11 days ago

You clearly have no concept of how broad “interstate commerce” is. It is 100% certain that the Astros’ computers are used in interstate commerce. Why would you think the FBI never thought of this issue? It’s fundamental to their jurisdiction to investigate anything at all.

IDrago
Member
IDrago
11 months 11 days ago

Some truly hilarious internet lawyering going on this thread. Looks like about 2% of commenters have any idea what they’re talking about.

NATS Fan
Guest
NATS Fan
11 months 11 days ago

Looks like the Cards took some nice hacks but struck out with the feds!

anon463
Guest
anon463
11 months 11 days ago

twas the man in white

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