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

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the reading-slashdot-is-a-felony dept.

Politics 134

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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All I can say to that is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614421)

who?

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 2 months ago | (#47614673)

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47615115)

The law would not pass anyway, reguardless of the bill's content. I believe the there is enough of the group that says "No" that bills just don't get beyond the house.

Movie and game idea, "The Purge, Welcom to the Koch Bro's Compound."

they don't want to look soft on crime as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615207)

You can't pass laws like that without having the person you are running against Say you want to let felons get off the hook.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614777)

He's a weak loser who the internet has a giant hard-on for because he was young and charismatic and stole some IP from the ***EVIL CORPORATIONS***. To the rest of us, he's just some putz who committed suicide when he found out that stealing actually has --GASP-- consequences.

Well (5, Insightful)

Njorthbiatr (3776975) | about 2 months ago | (#47614443)

What did you expect from an oligarchy?

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47614489)

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.

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614591)

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.

There is no super majority that wants Aaron's law passed.

Re:Well (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 months ago | (#47614609)

I think the majority who know of it want it passed - it's just not an issue that many people have heard of.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614883)

Well no, not many people off campus are going to give a fuck about some dumbass who offed himself because he got busted.

Martyrs are not virtuous, they're pathetic.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614885)

I think a very insignificant very vocal minority who know of it want it passed - it's just not an issue that many people care about.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Well (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47614899)

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.

It doesn't matter what you want. It only matters what you vote for. Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia's 6th congressional district, which includes Roanoke, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg and Staunton. If you live in that area, and this issue is important to you, then you should vote for someone else on November 4th. Zoe Lofgren represents San Jose, California, and deserves support on this issue.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615415)

We’ve tried to fund challengers against Goodlatte for years. He’s firmly entrenched and has a huge war chest. He appeals to the highly religious conservative base in this region as well as many of the larger business interests, so things like Aaron’s Law never even make it on the radar around these parts. The few times I’ve seen him in public forums, he’s derisive and arrogant to his constituents that express more liberal views on much of anything.

Re:Well (1)

mellon (7048) | about 2 months ago | (#47615581)

Funding isn't going to do it. Grass roots organizing is the only way around a political machine like that. That means tables at shopping centers, leafletting, speaking engagements at local organizations, etc. It can be done, but it's a lot of work.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616303)

Sorry, using the word "funding" wasn't meant to suggest larger efforts like you describe weren't in place... they have been. Thus far, though, it has been hard to make a dent in the Goodlatte machine for numerous reasons.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614963)

inb4 some idiot says "tyranny of the majority" as if we aren't living in a tyranny of the minority.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615099)

I never noticed it before or as a possibility but laws were put in like this which only seem to aide the NSA and other government authority. I say that because with the NSA and other agencies means to infect then collect data, or more to the point of cyber warfare in which countries more the likely led by the US are creating worms like Stuxnet, and thus they don't want the security community to find it, or even a hacker that created one and the power-that-be want to own that person to work for them, and keep Stuxnet like worms from becoming public knowledge.

I find it odd corporations also want to make sure the defunct CFAA stay intact and not a law that has commonsense, I'm sure their argument is not allowing security researchers or hackers from exposing the swiss cheese holes in their software/hardware. And not because they may be putting deliberate holes in their software/hardware.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614497)

Low taxes and independence, the same as I expect from any governmental system.

Face it ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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:Face it ... (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 2 months ago | (#47614797)

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.

Why is this modded "flamebait"? It is the truth.

Re:Face it ... (0)

mellon (7048) | about 2 months ago | (#47615593)

No, it's flamebait. If you care about this, get involved in politics. If you don't care enough to get involved, go back to your pizza and your TV.

Re:Face it ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616013)

I would, but since I'm not rich, I can't afford to.

Re:Face it ... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 2 months ago | (#47615395)

And what, as American Citizens, would you have us do? Rise up in arms? Overthrow our government? I participate in the civil process, I encourage others to do so, I write my politicians when I'm concerned about specific issues. What else is there?

I agree the country is going to hell in a hand basket but fuck that "you get what you deserve" bullshit. Not everyone in this country lives on the fringe of political opinion; the majority do not. Yes, fuck our government for ignoring the will of the people but fuck you for your lack of compassion towards those people. Yes, some of them sit back and enjoy it or take it depending on their status but, again, most of them don't and are as appalled as you are at the state of this country.

And where are you from AC that's so much better? How did your country's people prevent this from happening? Any useful suggestions or did you just come to hate?

Me, I'll continue to participate in the political process, teach my children to do the same, encourage others to do so (whether I agree with them or not) and hope that eventually the process wins and the fuckers that are taking us down the tubes are finally voted out of office for good.

Re:Face it ... (2)

mellon (7048) | about 2 months ago | (#47615609)

Vote. In. The. Primary. If you are in a gerrymandered district, register for the party that owns the district. Participate in the campaign if you have time. Run for office if you have more time. Even if you don't win, if you get attention you can move the Overton window in your direction.

Re:Face it ... (4, Interesting)

usuallylost (2468686) | about 2 months ago | (#47616059)

That is good advice. A huge number of Americans do not understand that we have a two election system. The primaries for the various parties and then the general election. The party's policy positions are frequently fought out in the primary process. Since such a small percentage of the population participates in those the will of the party elite tends to hold sway. If you want to change what happens a primary challenge is a much smaller undertaking and has the potential for greater impact than any other method of directly challenging the current system. Absent a primary upset odds are that the person on the ballot for both parties is an entrenched establishment player. Mostly because they are the only ones who come out for primaries.

The Virginia seventh district is a prime example of how a comparatively small and not well funded group of upset voters can change the entire dynamic of a race. An unknown comparative outsider came into the race and spent ~$250,000, which is chump change in congressional elections, and took down Eric Cantor. Because the voter pools are so much smaller it is much easier for a group to impact policy at that level. In the general election you frequently add a zero to the number of voters involved and to the amount of money you have to spend to get your message out. The key is upset local people changed the power structure in the house by particpating in the primary.

Re:Face it ... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47616591)

I agree the country is going to hell in a hand basket

Note that this has been a common belief for the last 50 years or so.

Arguably, it's been a common belief for the last century....

Re:Face it ... (2)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 2 months ago | (#47616631)

And what, as American Citizens, would you have us do? Rise up in arms? Overthrow our government?

First, contact elected officials, both your own and those in a position over the bill's progress. I wrote to six of them today when I read the story. I also contacted several of the committee members including Bob Goodlatte who is the committee chairman [house.gov] . Yes, one person is unlikely to get much change, but enough people contacting his office can induce change.

Second, encourage those around you contact their representitives, and encourage them to directly contact those in the committee who can get things changed. Just like I did up there in that first paragraph. Post the links on facebook and other social media (also already done this today). Encourage people to send a message, ANY MESSAGE, that references the bill to their legislator's office.

One or two messages won't do it. When it gets to be enough messages that the staffers notice, or even better enough that it overwhelms their office staff.

What would I have you do? Make a noise. Any noise you can. This reply is the first one that would be considered "preaching to the crowd", but is about my 15th communication about it today. That is what you can do. Make it clear to the legislators that it is important to you, raise the layperson's awareness of the issue, and help encourage others to contact the right offices. Even if it is nothing more than writing your own messages and then calling on the Internet Trolls that you know to send them messages, that is still something. Do what you can to get your voice heard, since it needs to be heard over the corporate money.

Also in the news... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47614507)

More and more IT security companies and conferences are moving abroad to evade insane politicians.

Remember when Black Hat Las Vegas was the ITSEC Mecca? People started praying in a different direction a while ago.

How to contact Bob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614523)

http://goodlatte.house.gov/contacts/new

Obviously your message will carry more weight if you actually live in the 6th District of Virginia, or you're a contributor to Bob's campaign, or if you convincingly argue that passing Aaron's law will somehow be good for Israel.

Re:How to contact Bob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614685)

Apparently you have to enter in a zip code from his area, so I added my real state to the city field and copied and pasted the zip code of his office in the state.

Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (4, Interesting)

guises (2423402) | about 2 months ago | (#47614525)

Apparently Oracle has sunk $1.36 mil into lobbying against this because they are using the CFAA to "protect trade secrets." Presumably they're holding the threat of ridiculous prison sentences over their employees' heads to keep them from leaking any of Oracle's precious bodily fluids, but someone must have some idea of what it is that Oracle is trying to hide, even if you all don't know the particulars. Spill.

Is it some special sauce for tricking state governments into contracting with Oracle when they could be working with a different, competent company? Or into buying ten times as many licenses as they actually need? Doubtless there's some reason why Oracle is as rich as it is...

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47614601)

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:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614615)

There is nothing in the constitution that says the first amendment only applies to people.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 2 months ago | (#47614807)

Very few people believe in that thing anymore.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 2 months ago | (#47614937)

So when cops shoot dogs for barking they're violating the canine's right to free speech?

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614979)

So when cops shoot dogs for barking they're violating the canine's right to free speech?

No

"Congress shall make no law..."

A Cop shooting a dog isn't congress making a law.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1, Flamebait)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47615049)

A Cop shooting a dog isn't congress making a law.

So, we can shoot Oracle then?

Thanks for clarifying that.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615339)

A Cop shooting a dog isn't congress making a law.

So, we can shoot Oracle then?

No you can't. Because the cop shooting a dog has nothing to do with free speech. It would fall under those do not murder laws.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47616031)

No you can't. Because the cop shooting a dog has nothing to do with free speech.

Nor does shooting Oracle.

It would fall under those do not murder laws.

What about those Texas "he needed killin' " laws?

Could we shoot Oracle in Texas and say it was a public service?

And, a note for the humor impaired, I'm not actually advocating anybody getting shot here, it's a fscking joke.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 2 months ago | (#47616571)

No you can't. Because the cop shooting a dog has nothing to do with free speech.

Nor does shooting Oracle.

It would fall under those do not murder laws.

What about those Texas "he needed killin' " laws?

Could we shoot Oracle in Texas and say it was a public service?

And, a note for the humor impaired, I'm not actually advocating anybody getting shot here, it's a fscking joke.

Wait! What?! (unloads shotgun) Dammit. I was on the way to the DMV. Good thing I hit Refresh on my way out the door.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47615443)

Normally when that happens to people, the cops get charged with "18 U.S. Code S. 241 - Conspiracy against rights." [cornell.edu] However, that law does appear to only apply to "persons," not dogs or corporations.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616963)

1 US Code Section 1:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise...the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;"

So how exactly does the section you quoted apply to "persons" but not corporations?

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615349)

You have to be someone negatively impacted, to have standing to complain about government exceeding their authority.

Suppose we had "The government shall have no authority whatesoever over warp drives, and the right to manufacture and sell warp drives shall not be infringed" in the Constitution. Then suppose Congress passed a law "No person shall manufacture or sell warp drives" in blatant defiance of their constitutional authority. Tell me: who could take that to court and have it struck down? There's no such thing as warp drives. You don't make them, or even know how to make them, or even have reason to suspect that you might be able to make them. You have never tried to buy one and then had Congress' stupid law interfere with your attempt. You've never been arrested for selling one, or aiding or abetting someone who was trying to sell one. The court would say you have no standing to sue. SCOTUS wouldn't merely silently refuse to hear your case: they would actually give you that reason for not hearing your case.

So, while Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, they could actually abridge my dog's speech and get away with it, since there'd be no one to stop them. It's be a victimless crime, and so even if it's illegal for the government to do it, we have not seized the power or asserted any means to enforce such limits.

Corporations aren't dogs, though. They're able to show standing. And that is really why they're able to assert rights. (It's not why they should necessarily have all these rights, but this is how they get the rights.) If you could deny standing to corporations (probably a bad idea, but...), then the First Amendment really wouldn't effectively cover them. Congress would be "prohibited" from infringing their rights, but it would be an empty, unenforcible prohibition. It's sort of like how people are "secure" against illegal search, but as long as the illegal search can be done sufficiently secretly enough, people can't prove they're victims and therefore the limits aren't enforced.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 months ago | (#47616577)

I have standing against all laws I am subject to. Anything less is not a functioning justice system. One shouldnt have to prove personal suffering to change the law.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616043)

There was nothing against slavery at first either.

We need a new Amendment.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (2)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 months ago | (#47614733)

Well, maybe if people stopped deciding who to vote for based on television commercials and put some actual thought into it we would get a more responsible government.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615161)

It's actually neither of those things. It's that the feds have the power to protect an individual businesse's interests in the first place. How the system is subverted from to do so is trivial.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47615189)

corporations are people, and that money equals speech

Its worse than that. You and I can speak. But corporations can issue the equivalent of royal* edicts. If we have a disagreement, we have to take it up in court as a civil matter. A corporation can create law and define some activity as illegal, making it a criminal offense. And they can expect the administration and courts to do their bidding based on that.

Our Constitution places limits on what Congress, the courts, the Administration and the people can and cannot do. So how is it that they were empowered to create entities with no such limitations?

*In old Europe, the position of royalty was considered to be granted as an act of God. So if Congress empowers corporate entities with such powers, they are clearly in violation of the First Amendment. Corporate charters aren't creating people, they are crowning kings (a few other Constitutional prohibitions going down the toilet right there).

I don't expect anything from Congress ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47614637)

... and Oracle was afraid they would do something. They wasted their money.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 months ago | (#47614651)

Apparently Oracle has sunk $1.36 mil into lobbying against this because they are using the CFAA to "protect trade secrets."

Sounds like an insane argument. Defending a law because you're using it for something it wasn't intended to be used for.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47614743)

Sounds like an insane argument. Defending a law because you're using it for something it wasn't intended to be used for.

In fairness, the government does it all the time ... so it's no more screwed up when corporations do it.

News flash, badly written laws get misused.

The problem comes when the people passing laws have no idea of what they say, the laws are written by corporate lobbyists, and the law makers ignore people pointing out the flaws in the law before it's passed.

When your elected representatives owe more to their corporate sponsors/donors than they do the people who elected them, this is what you get.

Re:Oracle trying to protect trade secrets (2)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 months ago | (#47615525)

News flash, badly written laws get misused.

Every tool is a weapon in the hands of someone with violent intent.

Business is a battlefield. Weapons are damn useful in a battlefield.

Business is ultimately responsible for the weaponization of the law. How could anyone argue that the CFAA is intended for anything else? If no one is digging holes, the only use left for a shovel is bashing your adversaries. The only question left, and it's purely an academic one, is whether this (mis-)use of the CFAA is an accident arising after its inception, or its real but unpublicized raison d'être.

CFAA & Aaronsw (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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:CFAA & Aaronsw (5, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:CFAA & Aaronsw (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 months ago | (#47615489)

I don't think that people are wanting his actions to be totally legal so much as just having reasonable punishment.

Six months sounds more than reasonable - however Swartz and his lawyers decided that was unreasonable and decided to enage in a high stakes game of chicken with Swartz's freedom on the line because Swartz wanted to be The Hero and Fight Back Against The Man. He and lawyers forgot two important things however, first - don't bet what you can't afford to lose, second - don't bluff unless you're prepared to be called.

Re:CFAA & Aaronsw (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 months ago | (#47615733)

For the actions committed, I would see reasonable as a fine not exceeding $1000 and/or 40 hours or less of community service.

Re: CFAA & Aaronsw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616099)

Fuck you, seriously. Swartz did not turn it into a highspeed game of chicken, prosecutors did with their excessive sentencing for fun and profit. Fuck you and everyone who thinks that it is okay to extort away right to a fair trial.

Re:CFAA & Aaronsw (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615523)

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.

As much as I agree fundamentally with the point that what Aaron did was wrong, the simple truth is that what JSTOR does is also wrong. The whole point of the creation of JSTOR was to have a collaborative database of journals between universities to collective pool the costs of archiving, access, etc. Yet no part of it was intended to anyway further restrict public access to the extant or future journals. But as a consequence of JSTOR apparently wanting to guarantee its position as an independent non-profit, its needlessly restricted access to just universities, libraries, etc who pay a fee instead of some model of public contribution that allows public access. The correct solution, of course, would be to recreate JSTOR and try to migrate people over and/or to campaign for JSTOR to change. In the end, at best Aaron was engaging in a sort of civil disobedience against how JSTOR was and is structured. The problem, though, was the 50 year prison sentence and the clear evidence that he was unlikely to much, if any, pardon. This very story just proves the point.

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.

Can you really call it "mental illness"? The US has striven to make the US Federal Prison system as horrible as possible to ensure that people desperately do not want to be placed there. Further, there has been a consistent trend that "white collar" crimes should be effectively nullified in fact (if not in statute) because there's a belief that CEOs, bankers, etc shouldn't have to suffer under those conditions. When you consider that at 26 a 50 year prison sentence could translate into life imprisonment, who in their right mind would choose that? That's the real irony of the death penalty, btw. A relatively quick death would likely be preferable to many murderers over a life in an 8'x8'x8' cell.

However, I'd do the same thing MIT did if I discovered some creep walking in off the street...

"At the time, Swartz was a research fellow at Harvard University, which provided him with a JSTOR account."

and causing all the researchers to lose access to a major database, kept evading blocks over a period of months,

And these are very legitimate complaints that would be a basis for punishment under CFAA, I think.

and broke into a wiring closet to hook up his own equipment.

"The authorities said Swartz downloaded the documents through a laptop connected to a networking switch in a controlled-access wiring closet at MIT. The door to the closet was kept unlocked, according to press reports." It's enough to say "walked into a wiring closet" and know that trespassing was involved without including a falsehood.

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.

Granted. And if they wanted to throw the creep in prison for 50 years, would you condemn the prosecutors or be generally oblivious to your involvement?,/p>

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.

Quite possibly because if zealous prosecutors were wanting to put Swartz in prison for 50 years, then violating a web site ToS with a wget crawl might get you 10 years. And that's just absurd.

Re:CFAA & Aaronsw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616029)

The problem, though, was the 50 year prison sentence and the clear evidence that he was unlikely to much, if any, pardon.

You know damned well that with the sentencing guidelines and Swartz's clean record he was facing a couple of years at theworst had he gone to trial and lost. His lawyers had reportedly negotiated plea deals ranging from 3-6 months. Swartz wouldn't accept the deals because a felony conviction would mean no more cushy ivy league fellowships.

Can you really call it "mental illness"?

Yes, people who kill themselves instead of go to prison for a few months have serious mental problems. Every year, tens of thousands of people serve their time in the federal Justice system and they don't kill themselves because they aren't sick. Your implication that If you think the US federal prison is as horrible as possible, go on youtube and watch some videos about places like Bang Kwang and realize you have no idea what you're talking about and also have no creativity.

"At the time, Swartz was a research fellow at Harvard University, which provided him with a JSTOR account."

Ask yourself why Swartz didn't run his keepgrabbing script at Harvard. hint: its the same reason he went to MIT, bought a clean laptop, used fake names, covered his face with his bike helmet, etc... Also, just because you have authorization and credentials to use a system doesn't mean you can use other credentials to abuse that system.

"The authorities said Swartz downloaded the documents through a laptop connected to a networking switch in a controlled-access wiring closet at MIT. The door to the closet was kept unlocked, according to press reports." It's enough to say "walked into a wiring closet" and know that trespassing was involved without including a falsehood.

Massachusets breaking and entering law only requires force to be involved. Opening a door you know you're not authorized and is not open to the general public is breaking and entering. You can see on the security camera images entered into evidence that he broke into that closet, he most certainly did not just walk in as you suggest

Will never ever pass (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47614573)

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.

Why? (1)

glrotate (300695) | about 2 months ago | (#47614595)

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

I love the blame game! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614621)

You can't blame the Republicans for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Leahy (D-VT). Its a senate bill too.

Abstract laws that already exist. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 months ago | (#47614627)

Lets say someone had little security, akin to not locking the door, and someone gets into the system and seals data. That is the same as if someone just walked in and made photocopies of all the data and left the building.

If they needed to break in, where the computers are in a more compromised state then it is breaking and entering.

He didn't hack (1, Flamebait)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 months ago | (#47614717)

Aaron Scwartz deliberately installed his own equipment, deliberately hidden under a cardboard box, in a place he had no right to be in.

The fact he had a JSTOR account is irrelevant. He put his equipment on someone else's network in an attempt to bypass the normal JSTOR requirements.

Stop making him out to be a hero. If you think what he did was fine, I'll be sure to do the same thing to the company you work for.

Re:He didn't hack (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615549)

This is a very bold comment. His crime was explicitly stated (illegally installing networking equipment to steal data) and you pretend like it wasn't even mentioned. I don't even think Bill Clinton would be brazen enough to copy you.

Re:He didn't hack (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 2 months ago | (#47615943)

You can't steal what you already have a right to, genius. He had a legitimate right to access that data.

Now, if you want to charge him with trespassing, that is another matter. That's not what they were charging him with.

Oh, and you're an idiot. Thought you should know.

Re:He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616105)

You can't steal what you already have a right to, genius. He had a legitimate right to access that data.

No he doesn't. He has no right to that what so ever. It has a privilege to access that data. MIT and JSTOR, on the other hand, have the right to revolve that privilege.

Re: He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616131)

Six months is unreasonable especially when it comes with the effective loss of citizenship of a felony, Fuck you for thinking that is okay.

Re:He didn't hack (1)

zephvark (1812804) | about 2 months ago | (#47616669)

he had been offered a plea bargain that carried only 6 months in a low security prison, but he turned it down.

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

Not crimes, civil charges that were entirely disputable. Considering that he was a fairly attractive young gay man, he might also have had significant qualms about the old and generally inaccurate meme of prison rape.

Re:He didn't hack (2, Informative)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 2 months ago | (#47614987)

But he had every right to attach his computer to that network. MIT has (or had?) a free and open network. It was open to everyone, not just students, faculty and guests. So there was no problem with him connecting to their network, or stashing his computer there.

JSTOR's contract with MIT allowed access to their papers to anyone on MIT's network. Not limited to students and faculty. Just anyone coming from their network. So there was nothing illegal about him downloading papers from JSTOR.

However, JSTOR's terms of service limited the number of papers one could download in a given period of time. I think it was something like 25 a day. Aaron, however, wrote a script that would download all 4 million in rapid succession.

The only thing "wrong" that he did was violate JSTOR's terms of service. Yes, if everyone did that the system would collapse. What he did amounts to bad manners. For that he deserves to be threatened with up to 50 years in jail? That's the kind of abuse Aaron's Law is intended to stop.

Re:He didn't hack (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 months ago | (#47615547)

But he had every right to attach his computer to that network. MIT has (or had?) a free and open network.

No he, nor anyone, does not. This was a specific network closet which he entered at night, in dark clothes and then attempted to hide the laptop under a box. That is not something anyone who has rights to a network would do. Ever.

Aaron, however, wrote a script that would download all 4 million in rapid succession.

So then you're admitting he deliberately violated the terms of agreement he signed.

The only thing "wrong" that he did was violate JSTOR's terms of service. Yes, if everyone did that the system would collapse. What he did amounts to bad manners.

Putting quotes around the word wrong doesn't make the word somehow less important. He was wrong, period, in what he did. The reason for the TOS is exactly what you said, the system would collapse. In fact, that is exactly what JSTOR was seeing. In his attempt to "free information" he was destroying the very thing he was using.

As someone further up said, those high number of years was bogus. It would never have happened. But then this whole thing would be moot if Aaron didn't break the law, now wouldn't it? Or are we once again to completely ignore one's personal responsibility in all this?

Re:He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615879)

http://www.wired.com/2013/12/swartz-video/

Re:He didn't hack (0)

cbhacking (979169) | about 2 months ago | (#47616023)

He didn't sign a thing, retard. There's nowhere on a website's TOS to sign, nor is there anywhere to dispute or modify a clause, nor is there any prevention against one party (specifically, the one whose agreement with the terms is not required) later modifying the terms. It's not a contract. It's not even a half-decent mockup of one.

Of course, even if it were a contract, civil contract violations are a matter for lawsuits not criminal charges. So he *DID NOT* break the law. A website's TOS is not law, should never be treated as law, and the potentially horrific consequences of allowing a website's TOS to be enforced by the criminal "justice" system should be obvious to anybody whose IQ exceeds that of a baboon.

Damn, the stupid is out in force today...

Re:He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47617097)

If he didn't break the law then he should have gone to trial.

The fact that he chose suicide seems to be pretty clear evidence that he thought a jury would be convinced he had broken the law.

Re:He didn't hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615571)

Hmm, so could you be more specific about how he connected his equipment to the MIT network? I'm guessing not because if you did, it would undermine your entire argument.

Larger request (5, Insightful)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 2 months ago | (#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: Larger request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47614873)

Or, we could:

"...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Here's to hoping.

Re: Larger request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616993)

By all means go and change it. Come on, revolt, be all cool and edgy and matrix. Oh, I forgot, you're just a stupid, cowardly nurd who would shit himself if a mall cop looked at him. Can you hear me snicker?

Re:Larger request (4, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 months ago | (#47614889)

The same thing happens with civil lawsuits also. If the RIAA thinks they've caught you uploading a thousand songs, they'll sue you for $150 million (the maximum penalty the law allows). Then, they will offer to settle for "only" $3,000 and a signed statement that they give you which basically admits your guilt and forces your silence on the matter. Your options are a) pay for a lawyer and spend time and money fighting the case knowing that you might lose and, even if you win, might not get back lawyer fees or b) settle and cut your losses.

Most people understandably choose option b. It's nice to say you'll defend your innocence in theory but in reality a fight like this would be too much for some people when they need to juggle work, bills, and other aspects of real life. The RIAA counts on this and abuses the legal system to ensure as high a "number of pirates caught" number as possible regardless of whether those "pirates" are really guilty or not.

Re:Larger request (5, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 months ago | (#47615047)

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.

Re:Larger request (4, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 2 months ago | (#47615217)

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.

Re:Larger request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615485)

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

Then you should go to court and you'll be acquitted.

Aaron on the other hand was guilty and he knew it. Luckily justice was still served by offing himself.

Re:Larger request (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 2 months ago | (#47615245)

He thought he was being 'the hero' would would face The Man down. But the deal worked out differently. And in the end he's ended up getting more attention by his death.

People his age think in terms of Absolute because righteous Adventurism is highly rewarding, and they really don't have big stakes in anything that matters.

Re:Larger request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615077)

I think that modern "justice" is severely broken. I read the stat for "pleading guilty to drug offenses" and it's 96%. Probably because only 4% are willing and financially able to fight a prison sentence. GUILT is usually decided by the arresting officer and the rest is a painful formality. Proving yourself innocent is expensive and time consuming and few can afford to lose a job and a house in order to do it.

Metric for guilt or innocence is; are you angering arresting officer? Guilty. For some reason your story just doesn't add up.
First person they see at crime scene with any relationship? Prime Suspect. The stat that tells us 80% of the time it's murder by family probably means 80% of the time, someone in the family is dumb enough to talk to the PoPo. Quincy is not going to take forensic evidence and they won't spend a week tracking down a lead -- OK, that's just my impression. But I can't think of a reason for a decent person to become an officer if they have to enforce stupid drug laws, and all the punishments are overly harsh and expensive so they ruin anyone who is poor -- regardless of guilt or innocence. Again, it's too expensive. The real damage in this country is caused by people with power, abusing that power. A higher percent of execs use drugs than people on welfare (it's a fact), but how many rich people ever go to jail.

25% of people are in jail for "not being able to pay fines." I'm waiting for the day when there is a blanket and pillow surcharge. You want heat in the room; that's extra. Nobody is choosing to stay in a cozy jail cell unless they are thoroughly broken. It's a negative experience and I've only found real growth in my life with positive support. I've yet to see proven the theory that neglect helps people. We had the dark ages -- and the "tough love" they got certainly didn't make them kings.

Other than the few serial killers, I don't see what benefit society gets from throwing so many people in prison for so long. If someone stole cars and there were REAL rehabilitation, I can't think of any program that would take more than a year if it were coupled with a chance at a real job.

I saw recently on a John Oliver show that a corporate corrections company bragged to stockholders of its earning potential due to "High re-incarceration rates." That's sick, disgusting and sad.

Re:Larger request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47617157)

I think that modern "justice" is severely broken. I read the stat for "pleading guilty to drug offenses" and it's 96%. Probably because only 4% are willing and financially able to fight a prison sentence. GUILT is usually decided by the arresting officer and the rest is a painful formality. Proving yourself innocent is expensive and time consuming and few can afford to lose a job and a house in order to do it.

Right, it's because they don't have the money to fight, and not because possession is basically trivial to prove.

Also, I like how you assume pleading to a drug offense automatically results in jail time. That's totally legit.

First problem is calling it Aaron's Law (2)

clovis (4684) | about 2 months ago | (#47614907)

Associating the act with Aaron Swartz such as calling it Aaron's Law is a huge mistake because any congressman that votes for it will have to consider how his opponents would use that against him in the next election. Keep in mind that the people who fund election campaigns are the kind that would look upon Aaron as a simple thief and menace.

The CFAA certainly needs to be fixed, but a better way would be to not mention Aaron Swartz and rather call it something like "CFAA Modernization Act"

Re:First problem is calling it Aaron's Law (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47615061)

Yes. Its a shame that a small child didn't go on line, steal some copyrighted material and then was driven to suicide by the shame brought down upon the family for harboring such a terrorist.

Then we could have named it the "Just think of the children law" and it would have passed easily.

Re:First problem is calling it Aaron's Law (1)

clovis (4684) | about 2 months ago | (#47615197)

Yes. Its a shame that a small child didn't go on line, steal some copyrighted material and then was driven to suicide by the shame brought down upon the family for harboring such a terrorist.

Then we could have named it the "Just think of the children law" and it would have passed easily.

Sadly, I have to agree with you, but am adding the stipulation that the child be from an upper middle class white family. Optimally, it would be a blonde girl who also fell into a well, but that may be asking too much.

Re:First problem is calling it Aaron's Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615287)

A small child would mean pre-puberty, which means death through autoerotic asphixiation wouldn't even be possible.

Conspiracy theories (1)

mattwarden (699984) | about 2 months ago | (#47615093)

No conspiracy required. A bill that very few people know about and far fewer would actually have affect their vote pattern or donations has very little chance of going anywhere. Every bill is an opportunity for riders and house-senate conference shenanigans, so I am pretty sure things are working correctly when this goes nowhere.

lack of interest (3, Insightful)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 months ago | (#47615125)

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

Re:lack of interest (1)

you-nix-boy (698814) | about 2 months ago | (#47615365)

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

Not when there are buckets of lobbyist cash propelling them...

TRICKS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615183)

Anytime there is a bill with a nice sounding name, you can bet it's not in the interest of the American people.

Aaron's parrents should sue the government for misrepresenting the name of his sone. The name tricks people into thinking it is something he supported, but that could not be further from the truth.

One more lost customer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615209)

Oracle, one more company I will not do business with.

Re: One more lost customer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47616931)

Suit yourself. Your "business" is nothing to Oracle, and to anybody else.

Video of Aaron Swartz in MIT network closet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47615739)

You'll notice that he locked the door and checked the handle before starting (in order to make sure that he wasn't disturbed):

http://www.wired.com/2013/12/swartz-video/

I agree that breaking the terms of service should not be a crime. However, the above video shows what is (and should be) a crime.

All I ask is that, if you argue for Aaron Swartz, you state why the above video shows a perfectly reasonable (and legal) act.

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