In the wake of Aaron Swartz’s suicide last week, US Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California has posted a newly proposed bill on Reddit that seeks to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Referring to the draft bill as “Aaron’s Law”, Lofgren explains that it aims to prevent the Government levying “such disproportionate charges” for incidents like the one Swartz was embroiled in. Swartz was indicted in 2011 for downloading thousands of academic papers from the JSTOR database via MIT. He faced up to 35 years in prison and took his life last Friday.
Lofgren goes on to say that “we should prevent what happened to Aaron from happening to other Internet users”. From the post:
“It looks like the government used the vague wording of those laws to claim that violating an online service’s user agreement or terms of service is a violation of the CFAA and the wire fraud statute. Using the law in this way could criminalise many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties.”
This proposal marks the first major response by US Congress to Swartz’s suicide. Whether Lofgren’s bill can make a real impact remains to be seen — but it’s at least a start. [The Hill]