New Draft of Computer Fraud And Abuse Act 2013 Reveals Failure to Reform Cumbersome Law

by Colonel on March 28, 2013

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was passed in 1984 to combat the cracking of huge computer systems owned by financial institutions and the government. Nearly 30 years and seven amendments later, the law is regarded by many lawyers and academics as overly “expansive” and “sweeping,” as it lets the government incarcerate “any Internet user they want,” according to former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr.

Despite the enormous reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as it currently stands – it was the same law used by prosecutors to torment late Internet activist Aaron Swartz prior to his suicide on Jan. 11 — the House Judiciary Committee has actually proposed a number of expansions to the law in a new draft, which Tech Dirt says will be “rushed” to Congress during its “cyber week” in the middle of April.

You can read the proposed Computer Fraud and Abuse Act draft in its entirety here.

” — Dave Smith, Copyright 2013 IBT Media Inc.

“Initially, the CFAA banned hacking, but over the years, it has morphed into a general restriction against online trespass to chattels.

Over the years, legislatures and the courts progressively have treated the unauthorized movement of data bits over someone else’s chattel into a “trespass” of that chattel–an activity I’ll call “online trespass to chattels.”

In 1997, CompuServe v. Cyber Promotions, a federal district court held that sending spam to an third party’s email router constituted trespass to chattels under the common law (common law is judge-made law, not enacted by a legislature).

And over the years, Congress has progressively expanded the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act so that it has become, in effect, a federal prohibition on trespassing someone else’s Internet equipment by sending data to it or taking data from it.

” — Eric Goldman, Copyright 2013 LLC

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