The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is broken. Tell Congress to fix it.

The tragic death of Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old coder and social activist, has highlighted the sad truth about America's misguided computer crime law - it give harsh penalties for minor crimes. How minor? The Justice Department thinks the CFAA criminalizes violations of website terms of service and employer computer use policies. Don't let the government turn a private contract into one policed by federal law.
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What's Wrong With the CFAA?

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has vague language that broadly criminalizes accessing a computer without "authorization," but doesn't explain what that actually means. It also contains heavy-handed penalties and shows no regard for whether an act was done to further the public good. And the Justice Department’s interpretation criminalizing terms of use violations would make virtually every Internet user a criminal.

We need to demand from Congress:

  1. No more criminal penalties for violating a website's fine print
  2. No criminal penalties for circumvention techniques that protect privacy and promote security
  3. Make penalties proportionate to offenses

Brilliant, talented, visionary people should be spending their time building our future, not worrying about wasting away in prison. Congress must start by updating the CFAA to ensure the penalties make sense in light of the behavior they're meant to punish.

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