April 12, 2013 | By Trevor Timm

Huffington Post Credits Internet Activists With "Major Victory" In Stopping Bad CFAA Bill, But Good Reforms Still Needed

We have great news on the last day of our week-of-action aimed at Congress over the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the draconian computer hacking law. Huffington Post is reporting that House Republicans “put the brakes" on an awful expansion to the CFAA that threatened Internet rights. Even better, Huffington Post is crediting pressure from “Internet activists” for this “major victory.”

A House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the law, chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), had planned to vote on a reform of the bill next week as part of a House Republican legislative flurry they dubbed "Cyber Week," according to both Republican and Democratic aides on the panel. However, the bill was pulled back because of pressure from the Internet community.

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All week, EFF and a host of other groups have been engaged in a week-of-action aimed at stopping this bill in its tracks. We started the week with a letter signed by EFF and organizations from across the political spectrum, but it’s you, the Internet users, who have emailed, tweeted, and called Congress to make sure your voices have been heard.

As Huffington Post reported:

The move to pull back plans to change CFAA is another indication of the growing strength of the cyber community, which first flexed its muscles in a public way to block SOPA, a bill that would have handed much more control of the Internet to government and its corporate allies.

It’s important to remember, this fight is far from over, and you should definitely contact Congress if you have not done so already. Even though the CFAA expansion has been tabled and there’s reportedly “no timeline” for bringing it back, legislators could revive it at any moment. The Justice Department has been lobbying for these expansions for years, and there’s no indication it will stop. The Justice Department also just asked Congress for more money to prosecute computer crimes, despite the facts it has been widely accused of prosecutorial misconduct in the cases they have already brought—notably its case against the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.

Most importantly, we still need Congress to pass real CFAA reform that will definitely state that violations of website terms of service and employee terms of use are not crimes, and that would prevent defendants from being locked away for years for acts that cause little or no economic harm. We need to protect innovators, activists, security researchers, and every day Internet users from a law that should only be aimed at real computer criminals that commit malicious acts like stealing credit card information.

Go here to email your representatives to tell them you support CFAA reform. Then you can follow up with a phone call telling them the same thing. Let’s ensure what happened to Aaron Swartz never happens to anyone else.

 


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