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Aaron Swartz

‘Aaron’s Law’ proposes changes to CFAA

15 Jan, 2013

Rep. Zoe Lofgren announces that she authored a bill(PDF) called “Aaron’s Law” that aims to change the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute to exclude terms of service violations. Lofgren wrote on Reddit:

His family’s statement about this speaks volumes about the inappropriate efforts undertaken by the U.S. government. There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced.

The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute. It looks like the government used the vague wording of those laws to claim that violating an online service’s user agreement or terms of service is a violation of the CFAA and the wire fraud statute.

Last April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected the government’s broad interpretation of the 1984 law, warning that millions of Americans could be subjected to prosecution for harmless Web surfing at work.