Rep Zoe Lofgren Continues To Improve 'Aaron's Law' Via Reddit

from the the-new-way-to-do-legislation dept

A few weeks ago, we wrote about Rep. Zoe Lofgren announcing plans to via Reddit, to introduce CFAA reform, called “Aaron’s Law.” Since then, Lofgren has taken into account numerous concerns and thoughts from various stakeholders, many of whom discussed it directly on Reddit, and has now announced a second draft, also via Reddit. While the folks at EFF note that there are still some additional improvements needed, it is, certainly, an important step forward in much needed CFAA reform.

Of course, perhaps just as important is showing how this sort of public engagement in democracy can really work. The original draft of Aaron’s Law did receive some criticism from some people (including mocking by some of our usual critics in our comments), without any hint of recognition that this is part of the process. It wasn’t introduced on Reddit because it was complete, but in order to get feedback for these kinds of future drafts. That is an important point, and other legislators would do well in paying attention. And, of course, even this is not a finished product, but another snapshot as to where the process is now, with more ability for people to weigh in.

Thank you, Reddit and everyone else who provided feedback to the original rough draft bill to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute – the laws the government used to unfairly prosecute Aaron Swartz. With the help of Internet freedom advocates, computer and legal experts, the draft has been revised and is available here. I have been in communication with Aaron’s father who supports this draft bill and approves of the name “Aaron’s Law.”

Like the first draft, this revised draft explicitly excludes breaches of terms of service or user agreements as violations of the CFAA and wire fraud statute. This revised draft also makes clear that changing one’s MAC or IP address is not in itself a violation of the CFAA or wire fraud statute. In addition, this draft limits the scope of CFAA by defining “access without authorization” as the circumvention of technological access barriers. Taken together, the changes in this draft should prevent the kind of abusive prosecution directed at Aaron Swartz and would help protect other Internet users from outsized liability for everyday activity.

As our discussions have continued, it is clear that many believe a thorough revision of the CFAA and substantial reform of copyright laws are necessary. I agree. “Aaron’s Law” is not this complete overhaul, but is a first step down the road to comprehensive reform. If we succeed in getting this draft bill enacted into law, it will be in honor of Aaron Swartz, and should be seen as a beginning of a concerted effort to bring reform to these broader issues. To be successful, that effort will likely take substantial time and require sustained and intense support from all of you in a push that will need to exceed our stoppage of SOPA.

I see “Aaron’s Law” as common sense fixes that should be enacted to stop the kinds of abuse Aaron was subjected to from affecting others. I intend to introduce a final version of “Aaron’s Law” as legislation soon, and in talking with my friend Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, I understand he wants to introduce it in the Senate as well. I will be urging my colleagues in the House of Reps to become cosponsors. The chances of success – whether for “Aaron’s Law” or other proposals – will depend greatly on the degree of positive public engagement and support to change the law. As SOPA showed, when the Internet speaks, lawmakers listen. I think with enough constructive support we can have an opportunity to pass “Aaron’s Law.”

Many thanks to all of you – Zoe

Whether or not this actually works for this bill — or whether or not this really is the full type of CFAA reform that we need (and I do think it’s as good step in the right direction), it’s fascinating to watch the process itself.

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Comments on “Rep Zoe Lofgren Continues To Improve 'Aaron's Law' Via Reddit”

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alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

“but is a first step down the road to comprehensive reform”

And THAT line will inevitably lead DOJ to testify against this effort under the guise that it sets precedent and creates a “slippery slope” toward cyber-terrorists looking to bring down the foundations of the very fabric of our great nation…

Or some similar bullshit, that will be conveyed behind closed doors, and FOIA efforts to gain access to those secret discussions will be met with entirely redacted documents.

Because we now live in an era of complete insanity in the DOJ and where too many in Congress have vested corporate interests to actually care about we, the people…

Anonymous Coward says:

my concern will be that, even if the final bill gets passed, after the intense lobbying that will be done against it, will the government, law enforcement agencies, courts, and the entertainment industries continue to abuse it in the way they abuse the laws now? if so, what steps will be included to hold them accountable? what will happen as punishment, if anything, or will it be similar to the way that whoever wants to abuse it will be able to in the same way DMCA is abused now with no recourse for false accusations?

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: Re:

wow. so you’re suggesting they start crafting laws to include penalties and punishment for abuse of power related to that law?

Please. you’re asking for intelligence at a level much higher than the overwhelming majority of politicians have the capacity to grasp.

In the meantime, Zoe might actually get more cosponsors if she’s willing to allow them to make further amendments, you know, to pay for bridge building in barren wastelands, or to pay for a private company in a cosponsor’s district to be awarded 89,000,000 to study the impact of beetle dung on mental health of the elderly…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Accountability? From a government that detains people without warrants and has secret laws that the public aren’t allowed to know? From law enforcement that won’t punish its own even if they’re child molesters?

The only form of accountability left is that you lose your job if something you do causes massive public outcry. And you’d be surprised what you can get away with without causing massive public outcry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

my concern will be that, even if the final bill gets passed, after the intense lobbying that will be done against it, will the government, law enforcement agencies, courts, and the entertainment industries continue to abuse it in the way they abuse the laws now?

Just out of curiosity, who do you think will be engaged in “intense lobbying” and what is the basis of their opposition?

Anonymous Coward says:

I found something wonderful a free hosting service for CouchDB.

Why it is wonderful?

Because it allows anyone to create app/databases prototypes.

Rep Zoe Lofgren, attempt is all good, but I would like to see something even more open, some would called it extreme, radical others may called it subversive.

But what I would like to see is people drafting their own and reaching agreement through adoption, people write their own drafts and others adopt the texts than it is just a matter of counting the adoption or how many times a document occurrence is found in a database.

Anonymous Coward says:

12 comments,, (now 13) I think you may have milked Aaron’s death enough now.. You tried to get some more milage from it, but with 12 comments, you even must be able to work out you cant get any more milk from this cow.

But we have noticed that in the past week you have gone to great efforts to squeeze out every last drop..

but thanks for devaluing the work of Aaron to the point where the people who initially did not care less about this person, is the same as the people who used to consider him even slightly important..

you’ve managed to destroy his reputation, and your own and by using Aaron’s death in the vial way you have you have even further destroyed you’re own reputation in the process.

(we initially did not think you were capable of going any lower, but you proved us all wrong)…

we’ll done Masnick.. I guess with less than 15 comments (for a weekend post!!!) you’ll have to find someone else to use as a ‘hotbotton’ issue to making your Google fun bills.

it’s been a sad week for you, with so little interest in your weekly dribble of articles.. hopefully next week we’ll get another Aaron type suicide for you to boost your readership..

Like the first draft, this revised draft explicitly excludes breaches of terms of service or user agreements as violations of the CFAA and wire fraud statute

So the proposed law is supposed to be a blanket law that makes every ‘term of service’ and ‘user agreement’ (CONTRACT LAW) ineffective and illegal..

yes, that will work !!!! >>>>>>> NOT..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Two things, the one who was originally mocking and belittling Aaron’s death here was YOU darryl. So the one devaluing his work, from the get go, was yourself and others. Handwaving away anything he actually accomplished/did and then making a mockery of his death, caused in part by the seemingly vindictive prosecution against him by DA Ortiz.

Secondly, thanks for proving me right. So not only did you miss and/or fail the class in your education on proper grammar and punctuation usage in school, but I see you did the same in reading comprehension.

“So the proposed law is supposed to be a blanket law that makes every ‘term of service’ and ‘user agreement’ (CONTRACT LAW) ineffective and illegal..

yes, that will work !!!! >>>>>>> NOT..”

Did you actually read what you quoted? Because I think you did, but you didn’t comprehend it.

The draft EXPLICITLY, which means in absolute terms makes clear, that breaches of terms of service/user agreements will be excluded, meaning not counted as or not considered, as violations of the CFAA and wire fraud statute.

What this means, to make even more clear, is NOT that terms of service/user agreements will be considered ineffective or illegal. It means that violating them WILL NOT be punishable by the CFAA and wire fraud statute. Like what with DA Ortiz tried to prosecute Aaron for.

I can’t possibly make it any clearer than that. And even then, I’m sure you’ll still be too stupid and too anti-Mike/anti-Aaron to get it.

Also, I fail to see how pointing out, rightly, that Rep. Lofgren discussing revisions to the draft with the Reddit community is in anyway a “hot button issue to making Google fun bills”. This is about clarifying an existing statute and excluding from it actions that are not considered “hacking” in the evil sense of the term, as well as to prevent the use of such broad terms (currently found in the CFAA and wire fraud statute) in the prosecution of people like Aaron.

This is actually a good thing. As much as you might not get that or think otherwise. I can see though how people like you will take issue with clarifying a law and preventing its abuse by some.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Replace Congress with Reddit

“Replace Congress with Reddit”
Message boards, at times become, become overrun by some who coordinate their efforts in order to up or down vote issues, posts, opinions, facts.

“let people vote directly on issues”
National referendum would be nice if everyone voted. It would become tedious if not limited to important issues and limited to one topic – no pork. Also, tyranny of the majority could become a problem if there were no sanity check.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: Re: Replace Congress with Reddit

and that would be the first legislation I could get behind in a national referendum scenario. Require all voters to be screened for sanity. Although that would end up eliminating about 80% of the people – essentially equal portions from the Democratic and Republican sides. But that’s okay.

It would leave the voting up to the rest of us, the ones who actually don’t see changing views as flip-flopping when it’s based on gained knowledge, or shocker – maturity enough to be open-minded…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Replace Congress with Reddit

“Require all voters to be screened for sanity”

This would then be added to the long list of items known as electoral fraud.
– poll tax
– literacy test
– gerrymandering
– voter id
– see wikipedia Electoral Fraud for many more

Eighty percent – Really? And this is based upon what exactly? Had the number been a bit less it might actually be believable but I suspect the post is a mixture of sarcasm and pessimism, this could be referred to as pessicasm.

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