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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
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- OT: Aaron's Law hopes to blunt US computer crime law Jeffrey Walton (Jan 21)