The good folks over at the EFF have posted a letter from a group of startups and innovators to Congress
seeking reform of the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act), which has been abused for years, most notably and recently, in the case against Aaron Swartz (full disclosure: I helped review the initial letter and helped the EFF get some of the signatures on the letter). This is important, because, as we have noted, plenty of innovators and entrepreneurs could have been
charged under this law for some of their random hacking experiments, some of which directly led them to create amazing innovations.
Many people have thought that the tech industry isn't as interested in CFAA reform, since it supposedly protects them in cases where they have been hacked, but that's not the case. Through out the startup community, I've heard many people who were horrified to learn about the charges against Aaron Swartz, as they quickly realized how easy it would be for a Justice Department official to spin what they themselves were doing into something nefarious sounding. That does not help innovation.
No one is in favor of having no rules at all, but clearly the CFAA is outdated, broken and widely abused. Fixing the law to focus on actual
malicious and nefarious attacks would be a huge step forward, not just for the public, but for innovators and entrepreneurs who often build great things by starting with a simple hack.