It's a slap in the face. As people across the country demand reform, some members of Congress are actually trying to make our computer laws even more harsh.
Many people will have heard of our friend and colleague Aaron Swartz, who tragically killed himself at the age of 26 while facing prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) - an outdated law that heavily criminalizes victimless online activities like violating a website's terms of service--that long fine print you "agree to" but never read.
Aaron's supposed crime? Downloading too many academic articles from a site to which he had legitimate access. But law enforcement threatened to put him in prison for decades -- because that's how over the top the CFAA is.
But instead of fixing the CFAA, some members of the House Judiciary Committee are now pushing a bill that will expand the CFAA, and create even harsher penalties.
This new law would heighten penalties by creating the possibility of up to 30 years in prison for certain broadly-defined offenses. It would make it easy to be considered a conspirator -- meaning you wouldn't have to actually commit a crime to be punished the same as if you had committed one!
The whole Internet is calling for Congress to fix the CFAA because it stifles innovation and can even imprison activists and innovators like Aaron. (And could easily have been used against Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and countless others.)
This is an awful affront to the cries for justice in the wake of Aaron's passing. Please help us beat this thing down!