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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How US anti-hacking law went astray

Miscarriages of justice perpetrated by the so-called US Department of Justice--In 20 years, we've seen the law become broader and the penalties become more Draconian," says Hanni Fakhoury, a former federal public defender who's now an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco (source CNET, infra)

From 'WarGames' to Aaron Swartz: How U.S. anti-hacking law went astray | Politics and Law - CNET News: " . . . Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who committed suicide while facing the possibility of a felony criminal conviction, was prosecuted under a law that was never intended to cover what he was accused of doing. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 dealt only with bank and defense-related intrusions. But over the years, thanks to constant pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, the scope of the law slowly crept outward. So by the time Swartz was arrested in 2011, the tough federal statute meant to protect our national defense secrets covered everything from Bradley Manning's offenses to violating a Web site's terms of use, a breathtaking expansion that has led to a House of Representatives hearingtoday and other calls for reform. In the hands of aggressive federal prosecutors, that wide-ranging law has become the proverbial hammer where a scalpel will do. It has been used against a New Jersey man who will be sentenced Monday for accesssing a portion of AT&T's Web site that was not password protected, and against a Missouri woman accused of lying on her MySpace profile. . . . " (read more at the link above)

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