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The U.S. Crackdown on Hackers Is Our New War on Drugs
From: InfoSec News <alerts () infosecnews org>
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:33:10 +0000 (UTC)

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2014/01/using-computer-drug-war-decade-dangerous-excessive-punishment-consequences/

By Hanni Fakhoury
Wired.com
01.23.14

Before Edward Snowden showed up, 2013 was shaping up as the year of reckoning for the much criticized federal anti-hacking statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA"). The suicide of Aaron Swartz in January 2013 brought the CFAA into mainstream consciousness, so Congress held hearings about the case, and legislative fixes were introduced to change the law.

Finally, there seemed to be a newfound scrutiny of CFAA prosecutions and punishment for accessing computer data without or in excess of "authorization" - which affected everyone from Chelsea Manning to Jeremy Hammond to Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer (disclosure: I'm one of his lawyers on appeal). Not to mention less illustrious personalities and everyday users, such as people who delete cookies from their browsers.

But unfortunately, not much has changed; if anything, the growing recognition of the powerful capabilities of modern computing and networking has resulted in a "cyber panic" in legislatures and prosecutor offices across the country. Instead of reexamination, we’ve seen aggressive charges and excessive punishment.

This cyber panic isn’t just a CFAA problem. In the zeal to crack down on cyberbullying, legislatures have passed overbroad laws criminalizing speech clearly protected by the First Amendment. This comes after one effort to use the CFAA to criminalize cyberbullying -- built on the premise that violating a website’s terms of service was unauthorized access, or the equivalent of hacking - was thrown out as unconstitutionally vague.

[...]

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