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OT: Aaron's Law hopes to blunt US computer crime law
From: Jeffrey Walton <noloader () gmail com>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 10:01:32 -0500


US Representative Zoe Lofgren has proposed an amendment to the
 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Lofgren also presented her amendment on
 Reddit. The amendment is called "Aaron's Law" by Lofgren and is being
 put forward as a response to the death of Aaron Swartz, the internet
 activist who killed himself while facing thirteen felony counts of
 computer and wire fraud after he attempted to liberate millions of
 academic papers from the JSTOR archive.

Currently, the CFAA allows prosecutors to define unauthorised access
 to computer systems such that even a simple violation of an ISP's or a
 web site's terms of service could be used to bring felony charges.
 Lofgren's proposal amends the law such that unauthorised access is not
 a felony if that access was solely contrary to terms of service or
 other contractual arrangements between a user and a service. A simple
 modification like this could well have reduced the number of felony
 charges that Swartz faced.

Wire and computer fraud charges are often added in hacking cases where
 ISPs' terms of service appear to have been broken, yet the charge can
 carry a three to five year prison sentence. Lofgren says using the law
 in this way "could criminalize many everyday activities and allow for
 outlandishly severe penalties" and she is now seeking cosponsors for
 the bill, which she hopes will be enacted quickly and act as a tribute
 to Swartz's life.

Other US law makers have also stepped up to condemn the prosecution;
 Representative Jared Polis reportedly said "the charges were
 ridiculous and trumped-up," while Representative Darrell Issa said his
 oversight panel would look into whether federal prosecutors had acted
 inappropriately. Lofgren, Polis and Issa are all members of the House
 Judiciary Committee. Issa also said that Congress should take up
 Swartz's aims and make more information freely available and make sure
 "that what is paid for is as widely available as possible to the
 American people".

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