Congress Apparently Uninterested In 'Aaron's Law' To Reform CFAA

from the this-is-a-problem dept

Well, this is rather unfortunate, but perhaps not a surprise. Last week, Politico reported that despite progress on Zoe Lofgren’s “Aaron’s Law,” designed to improve the CFAA, it’s unlikely to get any traction in Congress. The CFAA, of course, is the widely abused law that was written decades ago in an attempt to outlaw malicious hacking. The bill was never particularly well-written, and over time as the technology has changed, the CFAA has become wide open to broad interpretations, such that people have faced criminal charges for daring to… disobey a site’s terms of service (which they never even read). Aaaron Swartz was charged under the CFAA, hence the reform bill is being called “Aaron’s Law.” But, even with all the attention that Aaron got, Congress isn’t interested yet.

The article doesn’t suggest the idea is dead, just that it doesn’t have nearly enough support. Part of the reason is that the White House and the DOJ haven’t said a word about it — but, really, is that all that surprising given the complaints they’ve been receiving about US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s use of the CFAA in the Swartz case? But, even within Congress, the key people who are needed to support the bill have basically said they have more important things to deal with right now. And while there are other important bills on the table, it’s a big mistake to not update the CFAA before it is abused again.

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Comments on “Congress Apparently Uninterested In 'Aaron's Law' To Reform CFAA”

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art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Damn...

yes, too true, that…

there are some kongresskritters who won’t ACCEPT emails from ‘non-constituents’…
(’cause – don’t you know- there is such a thing as too much free speech…)
i’m betting if your name is on a donor list, you get a real quick response…

it used to be a tired joke, now it is tragically true: we have the best kongress money can buy ! ! !

so, the ‘problem’ is, us po’ folks simply can’t outbid our betters… ain’t that the free-market way ? ? ?

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

what this lack of interest shows, more than anything is how much respect Congress pays towards the people it is supposed to represent and definitely how much care they dont give towards laws that are so bad for everyone except the rich, the famous and the powerful, that again, the ordinary people are not considered worthy of anything other than when votes are needed, even when it costs lives! they should be ashamed of themselves! but have to carry on doing whatever their lords and masters, the entertainment industries say. God forbid if anyone actually responsible had to face up to it or changes were made to make it harder for those industries to be able to persecute people to the extreme end! perhaps it’s because they were involved in the writing of the original bill and dont want to admit it or how bad a law it is. but then, a lot of them were involved in the gun law changes, but are quick enough to jump on the band wagon when crap starts over those or video games! pathetic!

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

MUCH More important things to do...

Stop whining!

They are doing their job! There are special interests to satisfy, grandstanding to be done and underage Dominic prostitutes to sleep with and then cover up! Geez! What do you expect from them?!

/sarcasm off

Anyone who things that our “representatives” are actually representing us is completely out of touch with politics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The real problem here is grey haired, 20th Century politicians who are completely clueless in a 21st Century world. They all need to be forcefully purged because they’re not going to retire willingly as long as all the clueless 20th Century grandmas and grandpas (baby boomers & beyond)keep voting them back in. There appears to be no way of reaching these people to alert them of all the damage they’re doing.

Computers? Internet?… “What’s that? I don’t care. Doesn’t affect me.”

Safety? Lower Taxes?… “Sold! Now that affects me!”

Suzy says:

Re: Response to: Dreddsnik on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 6:22am

You nailed it. The malleability of the current law favors their control agenda and that is why they will not even bother to address it. They like a stacked deck. Meanwhile, there is always enthusiastic bipartisan support for anything that will makes life tougher on the already disenfranchised- new crimes, stiffer penalties, that sort of thing. Activists are a thorn in their side, not a real threat, yet one day any Internet activity that is critical of the government and encourages citizens to stand up for their rights will be labeled cyberterrorism and dealt with harshly.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Why would the government want to change this?

When laws and agencies are created that help “keep the general population in line” there is no motivation to remove these tools from the government or their supporters.

Make no mistake. The American government has been bought and sold by corporate interests. You are no longer represented.

The Federal Reserve, IRS, CFAA, SOPA, DMCA etc. are not there to serve and protect you, but to be tools to keep you in line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don’t really think Congress deserves the biggest slap on this. The DOJ is in the best position to make a quick impact by simply and clearly stating that breaking terms of service does not justify a felony prosecution.

Personally, I think it is as much about the DOJ keeping an all purpose “You did something with technology that we don’t like!” law on the books as it is about protecting Ortiz from the legal and reputational kicking she so richly deserves.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: lawyers know when words are empty

A mere statement to the effect that breaking terms of service doesn’t justify felony prosecution would be worthless. It would not have force of law; it would not form a legal defense for the next person so prosecuted.

If the DOJ meant it, they’d fire Ortiz, and maybe move to have her disbarred. She and every other prosecutor are keenly aware that this has not happened, and that pursuing such prosecutions is still — on average — a good career move.

William (profile) says:

Two Reasons Why ...

There’s two reasons why there will be pushback:

1. This poorly written law is a great hammer to deploy against cyber activists that run afoul of the government, and the government will not give up this hammer easily.

2. It is going to be very hard to fix this bill. Defining unauthorized access is a lot like defining what is pornographic. I see a lot of smart people struggling with this issue.

At this point I’d urge patience (that means you, Anonymous!). We still need to see the MIT report, the Justice Department has to answer some questions from some important Congress Critters, and (hopefully) there will be some public testimony.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Considering he broke no real law, besides trespassing, I fail to see your point.

As for coward… look at you Mr Anonymous Coward insulting and belittling someone who at least did what they thought was the right thing. Which was taking locked up knowledge and giving it back to the people. Far from cowardly an act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

He was a hacker and serial infringer. A first class douchebag that made his girlfriend discover his dead body, which will no doubt leave her fucked up for life.

You people have made horrible choices in your lives. It is blatantly obvious by your actions and the people and behavior you defend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He was not a hacker, nor a serial infringer. The facts prove both these things. Your version of reality notwithstanding.

And that’s right, we’re the horrible ones for defending the nobility of a guy who only wanted to release information to the public from journals that were being locked up by greedy people. /s

The horrible one is you. Reasons for this lie in your flat out lying about a deceased person, making a mockery of his cause and his death, and the cheap shot about his girlfriend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, you asshat, he was both; that’s why the government went after him and that’s why he aligned himself with Lessig and said the same stupid shit about copyright that Masnick is known for here.

As for the rest of your bullshit: Fuck you and go die in a fire. Just like I said- if you think this selfish fucker was noble, it is empirical evidence of how fucked up your belief system is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Ah yes, “rest of my bullshit”. [rolls eyes] Mhm. You’re the one telling me “fuck you and go die in a fire”. But I’m the one who’s full of shit and a horrible person? The irony/hypocrisy of your statement is completely lost on you, isn’t it?

As for “he was both”, no he wasn’t. As has already been pointed out by many legal experts. Needless to say, the opinion of one Anonymous Coward (that’d be you), means nothing and DOES NOT a fact make. Who you align yourself with is NOT a reflection of who you are. And I’m pretty sure that Lessig, nor Mike, for that matter are either hackers serial infringers.

What’s not noble is you being as insulting as you are towards myself, Aaron, and basically anyone who points out how flawed your reasoning is and how fucked up a person you are. Guess you and DA Ortiz have something in common. Neither of you can just admit when you’re wrong and you keep wanting to blame someone’s death on themselves rather than on overbearing assholes/cunts who only aggravated, what has already been pointed out as a serious affliction, his depression by being unreasonable people quick to make a scapegoat out of a poor kid.

Oh yeah, if you don’t check that anger of yours you’re going to give yourself an aneurysm eventually. Which wouldn’t be a big loss for the world. We don’t need your kind living on it, sociopath.

Gregg says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

Says the “Anonymous Coward”!
Dollars to donuts if you were hit with a barrage of charges from the DOJ that amounted to 35 – 50 years in prison, where even the supposed victim said please don’t charge him, I think you’d find a way to get out of it on your own.

Honestly, you’re an idiot if you are only seeing red from the DOJ side, but you’re most likely on the payroll OR maybe your Carmen!! LMAO!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

No, he was told 6 months. Then when he found out he was caught helping Wikileaks, which meant real jail time, the coward offed himself. And deliberately left his body for his girlfriend to discover, thus scarring her for life.

And Congressman Google wants to name a law for him. Uh huh.

She and you and everyone else that thinks this loser was noble is completely and totally fucked in the head.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

Who the hell should have to do 6 months of jailtime for nothing illegal?

He changed a MAC address on a computer. He accessed an open network. He downloaded public documents from the JSTOR. Whooooooo. Scary cybersecurity terrorist (did I get all the right buzzwords?) stuff right there.

In non-technical words: He tried to walk into a public library to move some public books from a locked room onto a public shelf for anyone to read. He couldn’t get through the door to a public library because it was locked, so he tried the next door since it was during normal business hours.

Remind me where the hell he earned 6 months let alone 35-50 years…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

Willful ignorance? Like the ignorance of someone who refuses to acknowledge actual law experts who have chimed in on the entire subject? You’re the worst kind of person. Taking any kind of joy in the death of anyone makes you a vile enough person, but the way you prattle on about things you apparently have no knowledge of or backgrou8nd in should just be criminal.

JoeDetroit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

So when someone is suffering from a disease that is so debilitating that they take their own life, you call that cowardice? Depression is a real disease, combined with being unjustly persecuted for allegedly violating a sites terms of service, facing massive punishment, it’s not surprising that he was pushed over the edge.

I really do not see how people can just blow off a victim of suicide as a coward. It’s caused by chronic depression. It’s really amazing how some people think.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Can we start trying to recall congresscritters?

Its obvious they aren’t going to represent the people until the people remind them who they are supposed to be working for.

They have done fuckall for 4 years and they want to keep going on that path, claiming to represent the people while doing what gets them more “donations” and appealing to the loudest stupidest voices.

There is a bad law, it has a bodycount and they can’t be bothered with it… I think its time to start throwing them out of office until the death of someone actually matters more than soundbites. People will go on and on about how this will be bad for the country and a waste of time and resources… I wonder how is it any different that the nothing they are doing now.

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