Fixing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a law that intends to protect computer systems from intruders and criminals.  

For those that haven’t been following, this is also the law that Aaron Swartz was prosecuted under for downloading too many academic papers at MIT.

Right now, Congress is considering updates to the CFAA.  It’s widely acknowledged that the way the law is written now, it not only doesn’t accomplish its goal effectively, but it also (like any good over-reaching internet law) makes criminals out of everyone.  From FixTheCFAA.com:

The CFAA is so broad that law enforcement says it criminalizes all sorts of mundane Internet use: Potentially even breaking a website’s fine print terms of service agreement. Don’t set up a Myspace page for your cat. Don’t fudge your height on a dating site. Don’t share your Facebook password with anybody: You could be committing a federal crime.

Unfortunately, the latest proposed changes to the CFAA don’t make it better; they actually make it worse.

It’s absolutely important that we protect our networks and computer systems through technical and legal means.  But the way to do it can’t be to criminalize tons of pretty regular behavior and quash the kind of experimenting and hacking (the good kind) that has been at the root of so much of our innovation and progress.

So, add your voice to the cause and let’s make sure congress doesn’t make things worse than they already are.

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