This week, we’re asking for you help to sound the alarm over a proposal currently making its way through the US House Judiciary Committee that would expand and harshen certain parts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
There is a possibility that the proposed changes to the CFAA could come up for a vote as early as this week, according to Demand Progress.
The amendments proposed would allow for the CFAA to be interpreted so broadly that all sorts of mundane Internet use could be criminalized, even going as far as to criminalize breaking a website’s fine print terms of service agreement. Something as simple as creating a Facebook page for your cat, or adding a couple of inches to your height in your online profile for an Internet dating service could expose you to prosecution for a federal crime under the CFAA.
Justice for Aaron Swartz
You’ll note a “Justice for Aaron” badge or banner on many Tucows sites this week that alerts visitors to the need for action, directing them to a site set up to explain the situation and asking them to contact their elected lawmakers.
Aaron Swartz was an Internet activist who was prosecuted under the CFAA in 2011 for downloading academic journals from a system called JSTOR. Earlier this year, Aaron committed suicide due, in part, to the pressure of a potential jail sentence of up to 35 years and a fine of a $1 million that he faced as a result of the heavy-handed prosecution.
Aaron was very involved in fighting against things like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and was instrumental in the creation of web standards and protocols like RSS and Markdown in addition to his activist work.
In memory of Aaron, US lawmakers have joined together to proposed a series of amendments to the CFAA called, “Aaron’s Law.” These changes would tighten the Act and would ensure that no one else would face the kind of persecution that Aaron Swartz faced thanks to the CFAA.
We ask that you take a look at the Justice for Aaron website and get involved. That could mean contacting your elected representatives if you live in the US, or simply raising awareness by putting the badge on your website or Facebook profile this week. Join sites like BoingBoing, Reddit, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Tucows in this effort.
If you want to learn more about Aaron Swartz, Aaron’s Law or the CFAA, you can visit some of the links below.