Computer hacking laws that make it a crime to use a fake name on social networking site 'Facebook' or lie about your weight in an online dating profile are being defended by the US Department of Justice.
These lies could be a federal crime under an obscure 1986 anti-hacking law that was passed well before the advent of social networking sites.
People are now pressing lawmakers to re-write the law, to prevent an administration push to toughen penalties from treating online mischief-makers the same as criminal hackers.
The debate centres on a law known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which have been broadened several times since 1986.
Critics of the law point most frequently to a section that imposes penalties on anyone who knowingly 'exceeds authorized access' on a computer to obtain information.
"Now it is possible for someone to be prosecuted for violating the user agreement in a social networking site," Fox News quoted Representative Bobby Scott as saying at a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill