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Aaron's Law Is Doomed and the CFAA Is Still Broken 134

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the reading-slashdot-is-a-felony dept.
I Ate A Candle (3762149) writes Aaron's Law, named after the late internet activist Aaron Swartz, was supposed to fix U.S. hacking laws, which many deem dated and overly harsh. But the bill looks certain to wither in Congress, thanks to corporate lobbying, disagreements in Washington between key lawmakers and a simple lack of interest amongst the general population for changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Representative Zoe Lofgren blamed inactivity from the House Judiciary Committee headed up by Representative Bob Goodlatte, which has chosen not to discuss or vote on Aaron's Law. There is still an appetite for CFAA reform, thanks to complaints from the security community that their research efforts have been deemed illegal acts, perversely making the internet a less secure place. But with the likes of Oracle trying to stop it and with Congress unwilling to act, change looks some way away.
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Aaron's Law Is Doomed and the CFAA Is Still Broken

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  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Njorthbiatr (3776975) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:24AM (#47614443)
    What did you expect from an oligarchy?
  • Face it ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:25AM (#47614447)

    The fascists are never going to give up power now that they have it.

    And, at this point, it is fairly obvious that both parties are more than willing to vote in favor of fascism.

    This is all about government control and secrecy, and if anybody is going to hack into anything with permission it's the NSA et al.

    Pathetic, in my lifetime, America has become a joke -- face it, you suck, your government sucks, and you've turned your backs on rights and freedoms.

    America deserves what it gets at this point, and deserves a massive amount of contempt and distrust from the rest of the world.

    You have become the fucking problem.

  • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:29AM (#47614489) Homepage

    What did you expect from an oligarchy?

    I think it's worse than that ... it's a nascent authoritarian state which is beholden to an oligarchy.

    Which means whatever the government doesn't control is in the hands of the corporations.

    So, if you're not being screwed in the name of secret national security by agencies which lie cheat and steal ... you're being screwed in the name of corporate profits. Or both.

    As a free society, America has pretty much almost ran it's course.

    Papers please, comrade, and don't forget to keep the economy going by buying stuff from one of our sponsors.

  • CFAA & Aaronsw (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:34AM (#47614531)

    CFAA may be broken but what Aaron did was still wrong and I don't think the law should be changed to make his behavior legal, which is the impression I get when the bill is named after him. I'm sure many others feel the same way. Sure, Swartz will be missed and many people are blaming themselves for not recognizing the signs of mental illness and helping him before he killed himself. However, I'd do the same thing MIT did if I discovered some creep walking in off the street and causing all the researchers to lose access to a major database, kept evading blocks over a period of months, and broke into a wiring closet to hook up his own equipment. Likewise, if some creep was trying to "keepgrabbing" my entire database, creating more traffic than all of my other customers combined, and jeopardizing my relationship with one of my biggest customers, you bet your ass I'd call the cops. Somehow, however, Swartz apologists keep trying to hitch this wagon up to the "I didn't read a web sites ToS and now I have a felony conviction" cause.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:38AM (#47614571)

    Yep.

    I'm growing tired of counting all the things that supermajorities of the people want that the government will never ever allow us to have.

    There are so many things that could be reformed/improved/eliminated/added in the context of government that the PEOPLE truly want (and want through large majorities) that it boggles the mind.

    However, if any of these things have a negative impact on the power of our politicians, or the power of their lobbyists, or the power of their party leaders, or the power of their special interest groups, then screw us.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:39AM (#47614573) Homepage

    When your lawmakers are low IQ low education level types that put more weight in the opinions of the lobbyists that stuff their pockets full of money... You will NEVER get fair and balanced laws.

    DMCA and PATRIOT are two prime examples of how the people on capitol hill work. most of those idiots do not even READ the laws they are voting on.

    The proper answer still remains, if you want to be a white hat, you MUST remain anonymous when you release any information. DO NOT ever let someone know who you are because good deed will be punished harshly by the scared and uneducated lawmakers.

    And the laws are only going toget worse as big business buy even more legislation to shore up out of date business practices.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:43AM (#47614601) Homepage

    You know what, this is precisely what happens when you decide corporations are people, and that money equals speech ... your democratic process becomes subverted by the will of corporations and ceases to be about representing the people.

    It's pretty much all downhill from here.

  • Re:CFAA & Aaronsw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:58AM (#47614703)
    I don't think that people are wanting his actions to be totally legal so much as just having reasonable punishment. I think naming it Aaron's law is to demonstrate that it is a means of preventing the abuse of the CFAA in the way it was used against Aaron.
  • Larger request (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @11:07AM (#47614765)
    Apparently the young man committed suicide due to the threat of severe charges and punishments. The real challenge is the way the legal system works. The common tactic is to charge a defendant with a stack of really off the wall charges and force a plea bargain for much more accurate charges. A person who really would face a year or two in prison is faced with a prosecutor threatening 60 years or more. Many personalities will fold and make a deal. Addicts are particularly vulnerable as they have urgent desires to get out and get loaded as soon as possible. There is also a public display element in that convictions and sentences make great newspaper fodder but inmates appeal and bargains are struck to avoid a retrial in many cases. Think about it. A bad person breaks into a home with people sleeping at night. The charge could be burglary which usually gets one probation for the first offense. Or the exact same crime can be called home invasion and the person may be in prison for 75 years. The prosecutor says plead to burglary and we won't charge you with home invasion. The bad actor doesn't want to die in prison so even if innocent will tend to plead guilty. So the only real cure is to require all charges to be filed before anyone interviews the bad actor. Then disallow any changing of the charges. Or we could dump the entire idea of allowing plea bargains.
  • Re:He didn't hack (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @11:23AM (#47614875)

    Fine, no. But worth 30 years in prison when even all the wronged parties did not want to continue the prosecution. FUCK NO.

  • Re:He didn't hack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @11:52AM (#47615033)

    Fine, no. But worth 30 years in prison when even all the wronged parties did not want to continue the prosecution. FUCK NO.

    Lets be completely honest about this.

    He was neither convected nor sentenced. The claim that he faced 35 years jail time is highly disingenuous since he had been offered a plea bargain that carried only 6 months in a low security prison, but he turned it down.

    The story after his suicide was one disingenuous load of crap after another. If the guy killed himself because of the jail time he faced, then even 6 months was too much for him.

    I dont see how 6 months is out of line for the crimes that he admitted to committing.

  • Re:He didn't hack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @12:00PM (#47615085)

    I dont see how 6 months is out of line for the crimes that he admitted to committing.

    What crimes? He violated the system's terms of service. Purely a civil matter.

  • lack of interest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @12:04PM (#47615125) Homepage

    There are a thousand laws where "lack of interest amongst the general population" was no obstacle to getting them passed.

  • Re:Larger request (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @12:20PM (#47615217) Homepage

    Apparently the young man committed suicide due to the threat of severe charges and punishments.

    He was offered a 6-month sentence in a low security prison. Turned it down.

    What's the point? If I'm innocent then 6 months in any prison is wrong.

    The grandparent has a lot of good points. Another much-needed reform is to force prosecutors to tell the jury the details of all plea bargains that were offered. When someone's facing 70 years in prison and the prosecutor has to sheepishly say to the jury "yeah, we thought 6 months was a reasonable sentence" then the jury's going to step back and say "okay, then what's up with all these charges?"

    The other reform mentioned by the grandparent is to simply disallow adding charges after the initial charges. If they uncover other criminal activity then make it a separate trial or something - it needs to be more expensive in terms of time and money for the prosecution to bring more charges.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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