CFAA: Still Broken And Congress Is Unlikely To Fix It Any Time Soon

from the your-random-reminder dept

There's been some attention paid to a recent Forbes article that confirms what pretty much everyone has always said: Congress won't move forward with reforming the CFAA. There's nothing particularly new in the article. It's just rehashing things that were hashed out over the past few years: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a very out-of-date law concerning hacking, has been abused mightily for decades, well beyond its intended purpose. It got lots of attention as the law being used against Aaron Swartz, but the abuses started long before that. However, many tech companies, led by Oracle, have fought against reform (in part because they use the threat of the law to keep employees from running off with trade secrets, even though there are other laws for that). At the same time, the DOJ would actually like to make the law even worse.

And, in the simplistic minds of many in Congress, if the big industry associated with the issue and the government don't want the necessary reforms -- even if the public is interested in such reforms -- it's just not worth doing. This doesn't necessarily mean that CFAA reform won't eventually happen, but like ECPA reform, patent reform and other related issues, very little can actually get through Congress these days. So in many cases, in the minds of certain folks in Congress, it's just not worth trying, even if it's the right thing to do.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    And thus we see, yet again, the harm done by trade secrets. This is a concept that needs to be eradicated in its entirety.

    Patents were supposed to have done away with trade secrets. This is literally the purpose that patents were created for: to give tradesmen a strong incentive to publish their discoveries, rather than keeping them secret and then the secret all too often ends up dying with them. But somewhere along the line, things went sideways, and we ended up enshrining protection for trade secrets in law instead of working to stamp them out, and time and time again we see the harm that that causes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:44pm

    No surprises anywhere

    Led by Oracle, huh?

    There's another non-surprise. Oracle is one of (and often the) the worst of the tech companies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:34pm

    "CFAA: Still Broken And Congress Is Unlikely To Fix It Any Time Soon"

    It's rather futile expecting something that is broken to be fixed by something that is broken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Padpaw (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:11pm

    the whole bloody government is broken at this point.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:57pm

    Re:

    And this is why we can not have nice things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Whatever (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 10:49pm

    A couple of things here. This story matches up nicely with the defunding story: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140806/15344028132/attempt-to-frame-justin-amashs-protection-civ il-liberties-as-supporting-terrorists-fails-miserably-polls.shtml

    Why? It shows the real malaise of Washington isn't one side or the other, rather that the critters play for the camera and don't actually work to fix things.

    For me the second part here is that you should be careful what you wish for. If the CFAA gets fixed, it's likely that the laws would get tougher and much more specific, and woudl almost certainly end making certain grey area activities into cold hard criminal acts.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:08am

    Re:

    I think the word "fixed" in case refers to being put six under.


    "the real malaise of Washington isn't one side or the other,"
    ... it's the corruption, greed and general lackadaisical attitude.

    In addition, claiming both sides are the same is obviously incorrect.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:17am

    Re:

    I can quite often fix things with a broken screwdriver!?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    Most of the issues in Washington stem from money and greed.

    Oracle (much like the MAFIAA) spends millions on 'Lobbying' to make sure that laws always go in their favour, usually against the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re:

    The right tool for the right job then?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    "If the CFAA gets fixed, it's likely that the laws would get tougher and much more specific, and woudl almost certainly end making certain grey area activities into cold hard criminal acts."

    Which, even if I disagreed with certain choices about what got criminalized, would still be an improvement over what we have now. What we have now effectively lets prosecutors decide what is criminal and what is not.

    A clear definition of what is criminal and what is not is essential. Without that, actual justice is impossible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    GEMont, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Justice is Blonde

    Silly Rabbit!

    T'aint broken.

    Its written exactly the way they want it written and does precisely what they want it to do.

    Why on earth would they do anything to change that!??

    Don't tell me you think the American Justice System is about Justice still! Under the current system, Justice can see with 20/20 vision and its the public that's blind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re:

    A clear definition of what is criminal and what is not is essential. Without that, actual justice is impossible.

    Also, isn't there a saying about how 'the best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it completely'? Maybe if they started publicly cracking down on things that are currently given a pass until the prosecution wants to score some easy PR, people might start calling for a real fix.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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