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Lawmakers Say CFAA Is Too Hard On Hackers

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-hackers? dept.

Crime 154

GovTechGuy writes "A number of lawmakers are using the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz to speak out against the Justice Department's handling of the case, and application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The controversy surrounding the Swartz case could finally give activists the momentum they need to halt the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes."

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It's time for a workers government (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#42894721)

The bourgeoisie is no longer fit to rule.

Workers to power!

America will be better under COMMUNISM!

Laura is the greatest, she made me an awersorme omelette! Happy Valentines day LAURA and go suck donkey balls you Slashdort haters, jingoist, and toadies of CAPITALISM!

Re:It's time for a workers government (3, Insightful)

Nexus7 (2919) | about 2 years ago | (#42895407)

Oh, I missed the memo. Is the revolution here? Is it time to line 'em up against the wall?

But seriously, lawmakers talking of laws being too harsh? Judges releasing people convicted under three-strikes in California? For America with its chart-topping prison population numbers, that's revolutionary enough.

Steady increase (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#42895501)

But seriously, lawmakers talking of laws being too harsh? Judges releasing people convicted under three-strikes in California? For America with its chart-topping prison population numbers, that's revolutionary enough.

Indeed; I think that the problem isn't "the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes," but the gradual increase in penalties for all crimes.

Rather than working on solving more crimes, the justice system seems to be trending toward making penalties harsher for the criminals that they do catch. This is a vicious circle; the harsher the penalties are, the more money we're spending on keeping people incarcerated.

I also find perturbing the technique used by prosecutors of charging people with a vast array of charges with huge possible penalties, so that they will have incentive to plea-bargain down to avoid the worst-case scenario that will be extremely harsh. This may indeed succeed for the prosecutors in getting guilty pleas, and succeed to some extent in saving the expense of trials-- but if some accused people actually are innocent (or even are guilty of minor crimes but not of everything in the book that they've been charged with), it is a failure of justice.

Re:Steady increase (3, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | about 2 years ago | (#42895641)

Not all crimes get harsher penalties. Rape & murder get a comparative slap on the wrist these days.

People's lives have no value but cost someone money (even imaginary income) and they throw the book at you.

Re:Steady increase (1, Informative)

stenvar (2789879) | about 2 years ago | (#42896321)

Not all crimes get harsher penalties. Rape & murder get a comparative slap on the wrist these days.

People's lives have no value but cost someone money (even imaginary income) and they throw the book at you.

Swartz was facing a maximum (!) of about a year of prison under federal sentencing guidelines, had been offered a plea bargain of six months, and probably would have been sentenced to even less given his background and stellar law team.

The average prison sentence for rape in the US is about 11.8 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_rape).

But don't let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Re:Steady increase (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about 2 years ago | (#42896961)

Except that's not how it works. A plea deal isn't a contract in which you get what you want in exchange for what they want.

Some have blithely said Aaron should just have taken a deal. This is callous. There was great practical risk to Aaron from pleading to any felony. .... More particularly, the court is not constrained to sentence as the government suggests. Rather, the probation department drafts an advisory sentencing report recommending a sentence based on the guidelines. The judge tends to rely heavily on that "neutral" report in sentencing. If Aaron pleaded to a misdemeanor, his potential sentence would be capped at one year, regardless of his guidelines calculation. However, if he plead guilty to a felony, he could have been sentenced to as many as 5 years, despite the government's agreement not to argue for more. Each additional conviction would increase the cap by 5 years, though the guidelines calculation would remain the same. No wonder he didn't want to plead to 13 felonies. Also, Aaron would have had to swear under oath that he committed a crime, something he did not actually believe.

http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2013/01/towards-learning-losing-aaron-swartz-part-2 [stanford.edu]

Re:Steady increase (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#42895935)

the justice system seems to be trending toward making penalties harsher for the criminals that they do catch.

Read something recently that boiled down to "we increase penalties for crimes whenever we find that the Law Enforcement types aren't bothering to arrest people for these crimes because the penalties aren't high enough to make it worth the hassles of a trial"

Re:Steady increase (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896181)

But seriously, lawmakers talking of laws being too harsh? Judges releasing people convicted under three-strikes in California? For America with its chart-topping prison population numbers, that's revolutionary enough.

Indeed; I think that the problem isn't "the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes," but the gradual increase in penalties for all crimes.

Rather than working on solving more crimes, the justice system seems to be trending toward making penalties harsher for the criminals that they do catch. This is a vicious circle; the harsher the penalties are, the more money we're spending on keeping people incarcerated.

I also find perturbing the technique used by prosecutors of charging people with a vast array of charges with huge possible penalties, so that they will have incentive to plea-bargain down to avoid the worst-case scenario that will be extremely harsh. This may indeed succeed for the prosecutors in getting guilty pleas, and succeed to some extent in saving the expense of trials-- but if some accused people actually are innocent (or even are guilty of minor crimes but not of everything in the book that they've been charged with), it is a failure of justice.

Please do not make the mistake of calling what we have in the US today the justice system. Call it the legal system or law enforcement or any expletive you like, but not "justice". The only people who get a break in this country either have political connections to our purchased politicians, or the very rich who can afford teams of expensive lawyers to fight the system and keep you from being steamrolled every step of the way. This is why the systematic gutting of the constitution by both parties (including the one you may like) bodes very poorly for the future unless people wake up, and I see no signs that that is likely.

Re:Steady increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896255)

I don't live there, but from the outside, it looks like prison in the USA is becoming something that only punishes. They were supposed to have in their description words like reeducation, reabilitation, corrective etc. And not even that, not now when they look more like spas with restricted movement and curfews.

Re:Steady increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896323)

Really the entire justice system is riddled with issues. Logic seems to be missing in many cases. For example we have crime data that indicates that more people are killed in the theft of bicycles than in bank robberies. Bank robberies are somewhat rare. Bicycle thefts are so common that a confrontation between an owner and a thief is all too common. The value of the bicycles stolen surely exceeds the loss of banks to robbers. Yet no one is going to suggest that bicycle thieves should be sentenced to longer terms than bank robbers. The fact is that they should be.
                                      Now they are yacking about domestic violence disallowing a gun permit. The cops have already been through this. So many cops have had domestic violence arrests at some point in their life that large numbers were scheduled to lose a career. The catch being that domestic violence arrests often do not address reality at all but are simply used to get a couple apart for a few hours. Scenes such as a wife slapping her husband four times before he slaps her once yet her skin is tender enough to leave a mark whereas his is not lead to such arrests of the male. The notion of denying a constitutional right to a citizen over such trivial events is very troublesome. In fact many times felons have the greatest need to carry guns. For example a felon might exist by getting aluminum cans out of trash bins at night. His exposure as a potential victim is unusually high. He can get no other work due to his arrest record. Supposedly his jail time was his punishment but now is permanent as he is denied a carry permit. Or what of the felon who lives in an area where bear attacks are a big problem. Neither he, nor anyone in the household, may possess a firearm. Bears are known to tear entire walls out of the sides of homes to feed on occupants. In some areas people place great value on industrial freezer doors. These strong metal doors are purchased from restaurants that have closed to be used as front doors on country homes and cabins in bear prone areas.
                    The point being that laws only represent the prejudices of a community and have little to do with reality at all.

Their Fear is the problem (5, Insightful)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 years ago | (#42894725)

The main problem is that the law makers still have no clue about computers or technology in general. They hear 'hacker' and think that every kid with a computer in their room can launch a nuclear attack. This is why they try to execute anyone who knows more than them. Their narrow minded fear.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42894815)

They couldn't find the documentation on national security, so they showed WarGames to Congress instead.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42895007)

No they don't. They open their freezer to get some ice for their scotch, see a fat wad of cash wrapped in a zip-lock bag, smile to themselves, and then make a note to call the RIAA in the morning to confirm their support for the upcoming legislation. Your government is completely bought and paid for... by Corporations, Trade groups, Unions, special interest groups... etc... they only way to change this is to get the hackers together, hire their own lobbyist and start paying off the government just like everyone else. And no, I'm not kidding.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (3, Insightful)

endus (698588) | about 2 years ago | (#42895591)

I completely agree with you. The legislation isn't even set up in a paranoid or ignorant fashion...it's set up to impose insane penalties on anyone who dares to violate IP laws.

I'm not opposed to the idea of IP or profiting off the information-based products you build (though the current system is obviously broken) but the laws impose penalties which are clearly out of line with the scope of the crime. Most often, people liberating information and sharing it gets it into the hands of people who probably would never have paid for it anyway. I don't doubt that there is some impact to a company from a breach like that, but it's not as damaging as the penalties suggest it is.

Taking someone's trade secrets and giving them to a competitor? Yea, that's corporate espionage and it's a Big Deal. Even stealing the source code of a closed source product and putting that online is a relatively Big Deal because competitors will tend to get a hold of it and use it to their advantage. However, what Swartz did is not going to have the same impact to the organization that was breached.

The laws should exist, but they should be written to impose reasonable penalties based on the scope of the crime. Maybe there's some ignorance on the part of lawmakers there, but it's willful ignorance which comes directly from the fact that companies are paying them for the legislation to be passed.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896481)

I completely agree with you. The legislation isn't even set up in a paranoid or ignorant fashion...it's set up to impose insane penalties on anyone who dares to violate IP laws.

This is now extremely obvious in Europe.

To make your point:

- Rape a child in Sweden, 100.000 SEK damages (recent sentence)
- Offer pirated TV content, 37.000.000 SEK in damages (recent sentence)

Anyone who fails to see that the law is now in service of the rich media corporations must be blind or otherwise impaired.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895793)

No they don't. They open their freezer to get some ice for their scotch, see a fat wad of cash wrapped in a zip-lock bag, smile to themselves, and then make a note to call the RIAA in the morning to confirm their support for the upcoming legislation. Your government is completely bought and paid for...

I am absolutely appalled!

Ice ... in scotch?!?!

(I shudder at the thought)

Re:Their Fear is the problem (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42895885)

Oh, my! "Get the hackers together". Good luck with that. We gots white hats, we gots black hats, we gots grays in various shades - I'll bet if I were to go looking, I could find some fruitcake rainbow hats hiding in their closets. We have so many different motivations for "hacking". We have so many categories of ethics involved. Hackers getting together? Hell, man, even WHITE HAT hackers flirt with existing law, and need to keep their identities secret.

So, who you gonna call? Hack Busters? Hmmmm - I think I have Hack Busters site here somewhere - - - https://www.eff.org/ [eff.org]

No need to reinvent the wheel. Let's just maybe redesign it, fund it, and put it on the road. What we need are sane internet laws, and the EFF is in pursuit of that goal already. They may not represent "hackers" specifically, but they are in a position to attract various sorts of hackers.

It would be great if only ten or fifteen percent of "hackers" were to join the EFF, and send small donations. At the same time, they need to make their voices heard, and explain why they are joining. "I'm a part time hacker, and some of the laws scare the shit out of me!" It matters little if the hacker just reverse engineers games for his own use, or he's pen-testing networks without authorization. They are still hackers, and they need protection from draconian nonsense laws.

It's willful ignorance not fear. (3, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 2 years ago | (#42895055)

They don't even care about the hacker community. They don't even understand what the hacker community is or what it's about. They view all hackers as cyber terrorists and criminals. They view anyone with certain skills are criminal. You can't even get a CEH certification and put it on your resume without getting funny looks and having people think you're a criminal. They view Slashdot as a place where e-terrorists and criminals go to talk about their cyber wizardry.

Seriously, hackers are like warlocks and witches and the only thing the governments want to do is persecute them all. They wont work with hackers, they wont let hackers help them without threatening to ruin their lives or using harsh bullying tactics. Hackers who don't cooperate with them seem to end up charged with rape, child porn, or just a bunch of bullshit charges that prosecutors can find to leverage on them to try to break them.

Why are hackers treated so bad if hackers are so important to the whole cyberwarfare scenario? Hackers no matter how patriotic they are get treated like criminals and terrorists and because of this no patriotic hacker community can try to survive.

Re:It's willful ignorance not fear. (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 2 years ago | (#42895191)

They wont work with hackers, they wont let hackers help them without threatening to ruin their lives or using harsh bullying tactics.

For certain arms of the US government, what you're saying is probably true. The Department of Justice is clearly taking a hard line. The Department of Defense, though, has shown some interest in recruiting hackers. This is an old story now, but Mudge [cnet.com] is currently a program manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Re:It's willful ignorance not fear. (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 2 years ago | (#42897149)

Hackers who don't cooperate with them seem to end up charged with rape, child porn, or just a bunch of bullshit charges that prosecutors can find to leverage on them to try to break them

I'm going to have to ask for some citation, please. The exact story you're posting on is discussing how the penalties for hacking-related charges are too high. If the government can throw you in prison for several years for hacking, why would they need to frame you for something unrelated?

Re:Their Fear is the problem (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#42895517)

People are scared of kids. They criminalize things kids do. Look at the war on drugs. A few kids started using, and all hell broke lose. Social status plays an issue. Middle class parents don't like their kids offing themselves, but don't have resources to stop it. Politicians are especially afraid of lower class urban kids, so they put in place things like the excessive penalties for crack.

Of course when these laws effect someone who is a 'good kid', like a normal looking kid from a good school, then people start thinking maybe it isn't fair. But really, getting into trouble is often a choice. Growing up on a place where the choices were hard and the consequences could be great, I can tell you the choice is often not clear, even in those circumstances. But the solution is to look at why we want to criminalize so much behavior, not focusing on an unfortunate person who may be a victim.

Re:Their Fear is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896367)

The main problem is that the law makers still have no clue about computers or technology in general. They hear 'hacker' and think that every kid with a computer in their room can launch a nuclear attack. This is why they try to execute anyone who knows more than them. Their narrow minded fear.

Yeah! That's why we need every kid with a computer to mobilize and start launching attacks on government websites, then move on to mailbombing congresspeople! It's a tried-and-true method of beating back Thursday boredom on the internet! That'll show 'em they shouldn't fear us and...

Oh.

Still missing the point a bit? (3, Interesting)

whydavid (2593831) | about 2 years ago | (#42894729)

If this were a Chinese-American hacker stealing schematics from Raytheon we'd all be happy to see the harshest threats/penalties applied. The issue here was bullying at the DOJ. You can't fix that with a few tweaks to the law, and if you lower maximum penalties you will find yourself regretting it when someone actually does do something worthy of those maximum penalties. And if you close these holes, aren't they just going to find others? You have issues with behaviors/attitudes at DOJ that need to be fixed, not just a few sentences in a statute. So, sure, maybe they should tweak the laws a bit; but how does that fix the oversight issues? Seems like a nice way to convince everyone they "did something" without actually fixing the issue.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42894787)

If this were a Chinese-American hacker stealing schematics from Raytheon we'd all be happy to see the harshest threats/penalties applied. The issue here was bullying at the DOJ. You can't fix that with a few tweaks to the law, and if you lower maximum penalties you will find yourself regretting it when someone actually does do something worthy of those maximum penalties.

But then he gets not prosecuted for stealing scientific articles, but for transmitting weapon secrets to foreign powers -- independently of the means to get his hands on said documents. Your argument seems to be that we need to have harsh penalties for wielding a knife, because someone may stab a person with a dagger.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

p43751 (170402) | about 2 years ago | (#42895071)

Technically it looks like he want's to punish everyone who use a knife equally harsh, for cutting an ex's tires or killing him with it. Then he will go after the vandalism or murder separately.
Hacking is not worse than owning a knife but both can be used to break laws. To accept laws that would make either a crime, is just nonsense.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

whydavid (2593831) | about 2 years ago | (#42895221)

I'm not sure how you managed to entirely misinterpret everything I said to arrive at this conclusion. Bravo. The title of my original comment could very well apply to your response.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

whydavid (2593831) | about 2 years ago | (#42895207)

I think you may have missed my greater point by citing only the portion you did. The CFAA might suck (probably does). Revising it doesn't fix what happened to Aaron Swartz. The "chinese hacker" example was just a hypothetical to force readers to think about this not in terms of the situation with Aaron, but in terms of some other hypothetical scenario where the accused won't get (or deserve) as much sympathy as Swartz. There are countless instances of over-prosecution used to make an example out of someone both in and outside of the technology universe. This is one specific instance of a far larger problem, and plugging one hole isn't going to leave us any better off. The CFAA is ill-conceived, but it really isn't the issue. We could look at many of the drug-related prosecutions in the United States as additional instances of this problem; many of those cases deal with an even greater injustice in the form of mandatory minimum sentences. Fixing the CFAA is going to be harmful to this cause. Mark my words: It will be patched and the problem will be declared fixed, despite nothing being truly fixed. It's worse than doing nothing.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 2 years ago | (#42896431)

But then he gets not prosecuted for stealing scientific articles

Neither did Swartz. Swartz got prosecuted for physically breaking into a computer network on private property without authorization; that's pretty serious no matter how you look at it. A court might have decided there were extenuating circumstances, but that's for a court to decide, not the prosecutor.

And even in the worst case, Swartz would have faced only about a year in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, since the maximum prison term is related to damages caused (in this case, mostly MIT's and JSTOR's wasted time).

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 2 years ago | (#42896531)

I dunno. I seems too fucking hard to legislate some common sense? OR use common sense when applying laws?
The problem is using prosecution to further your political career which is what these people are doing and completely ignoring the fact that you're at the same time ruining lives.
So i get it, they did wrong, but the wrong they did didn't harm anyone, didn't cause irrevocable damage, even in some cases the complainers of the damages asked charges to be dropped. Why do you feel the need to railroad them with the maximum possible punishment?
Far too long people have been ok with turning the legal system into a way that destroys people. There is no way for the common man to defend themselves without going bankrupt. In many cases even if you win, you're a huge loser. Your life savings are gone and you can't even counter sue for damages. The whole other aspect of this is that the system has been simplified into a simple logic game. Has the person broken a law? If so, apply maximum damages and see what sticks.
The system imo is broken when a common man gets ruined when trying to defend themselves. The system is broken when regardless of the severity, maximum punishment is applied for the promotion of one's career or for profit prison system. The system is broken when the amount of wealth a person or group of people has is equivalent to the amount of punishment they'll receive.

In the DoJ's defense (3, Informative)

MikeRT (947531) | about 2 years ago | (#42894851)

The CFAA would be an afterthought in that case. The amount of export and national security felonies he'd have committed would be enough to probably make the CFAA not make the cut on the (IIRC) 15 count limit of charges the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allow to be brought at once.

Pronoun drunkness (-1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#42894895)

we'd all be happy to see the harshest threats/penalties applied

I wouldn't - (because fuck Raytheon, what did it ever do for me?)
So who are "we"? Or am I they?

You have issues with behaviors/attitudes at DOJ that need to be fixed, not just a few sentences in a statute.

No, I don't have issues with DOJ. DOJ has the issues on its own.

And if you close these holes, aren't they just going to find others?...
So, sure, maybe they should tweak the laws a bit;

Who the hell are they?

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894951)

Can we agree that stealing a bunch of articles should probably get less of a punishment than murder?

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895457)

Can we agree that stealing a bunch of articles should probably get less of a punishment than murder?

This is a reasonable argument. If we can agree that what Swartz did wasn't exactly on the up and up, then the law isn't really the problem. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines probably need to be amended in order to bring the potential punishment in line with the crime. From what I've read, Ortiz was going to push for 7 years if Swartz didn't take the 6 month plea deal. That's far less than the 30 - 50 being thrown about by the media and his supporters, but IMO its also far too much for this particular crime.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42895959)

Depends on the articles.

Lifting detailed engineering prints for our latest thermonuclear weapons, then selling them to Iran or Korea is probably just a little bit worse than a single murder.

Hacking into a "celebrity" email merits something like a peeping tom charge, which is obviously a lot less serious than murder.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (3, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 2 years ago | (#42895143)

If this were a Chinese-American hacker stealing schematics from Raytheon we'd all be happy to see the harshest threats/penalties applied. The issue here was bullying at the DOJ. You can't fix that with a few tweaks to the law, and if you lower maximum penalties you will find yourself regretting it when someone actually does do something worthy of those maximum penalties. And if you close these holes, aren't they just going to find others? You have issues with behaviors/attitudes at DOJ that need to be fixed, not just a few sentences in a statute. So, sure, maybe they should tweak the laws a bit; but how does that fix the oversight issues? Seems like a nice way to convince everyone they "did something" without actually fixing the issue.

Those penalties wont stop people from doing it. If it's a cyberwar and nation states are sponsoring it then no amount of harsh penalties will have any affect. If it's not that then the harsh penalties will have the wrong effect on the wrong people.

Being tough doesn't really DO anything. It's all about looking tough but it doesn't DO anything but hurt people so you can look a certain way to some other people. Looking tough is the problem. The solution to this problem is REALLY simple. The solution is a tigher and better hacker community. If the US government wants patriotic hackers then it's up to them to actually promote that kind of hacker community and you aren't going to promote that by persecuting hackers. You promote that by rewarding the heroes and patriots (which never seems to happen). When a hacker does something heroic or patriotic he or she is rewarded with a jail penalty, a blacklisting from the industry, loss of the right to own a gun, to vote, etc.

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (2)

stiggle (649614) | about 2 years ago | (#42896145)

If the victim (hacker target, mugging victim, etc) doesn't want to press charges or continue with the case and can show no duress or influence to cause this decision (not being threatened, etc) then the case should be dropped. Not picked up and ran with by the local DA/DOJ

Re:Still missing the point a bit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896525)

Think of this. The word secret and a sister word secretion obviously must have some logical connection. A secretion is , in a pre technology world something rather nasty. Snot, semen, menstrual fluids, sweat, ear wax, puss and about every nasty thing in a natural person are secretions. And people do like to hide their secretions. To keep the secretions covered up, out of sight, quickly washed away are all methods of making secret ones secretions.
                          So what is the point? Secrets have a nasty component and that is why the word is so related to secretions. Secrecy is in itself nasty, unwholesome and serves evil personalities. The more secrecy a person desires the greater the wrongs or nastiness he is hiding.
                          As a culture, largely illiterate, we no longer carry the music of our language. The association between secrecy and secretions does not strike the average person. At one time all business was considered rather nasty and not within the province of gentlemen. Within the last 150 years we are more accepting of the business mentality, which speaks poorly of us as a nation . We have also become used to the notion that governments must have secrets. The moral decay has lead us to the point that people want the ability to cheat and lie, steal and commit crimes and acts of betrayal to be their right. The idea that it should be legal to film and record all conversations covertly, to force openness and responsibility upon people has no support in America these days. The cheating wife, the lying husband, insist on their right to bring HIV home consequential to their adultery. The coward who must use drugs to get through the day dreads the cam that catches him. The traffic offender curses the cam that catches him under the red light. We are a nation of wanna be criminals and moral perverts.

Why... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894773)

Swartz took the easy way out, by his own choice, instead of taking responsibility for what he did.

Re:Why... (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42894843)

He violated Terms of Service of JSTOR. And he took responsibility for it (by handing over his HD to JSTOR and admitting what he did). Everything else is overboarding prosecution and trying to boost one's career at the expense of someone vulnerable.

Re:Why... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895343)

No, he took down JSTOR servers with excess traffic by running an overly aggressive and efficient web crawler against them, and JSTOR was forced to respond by cutting off MIT altogether because Aaron kept sneaking around or past MIT's modest efforts to prevent his abuse. He didn't stop, even after repeatedly knocking down JSTOR servers. He wasn't *going* to stop, because of his demonstrated insistence.

Aaron had access to JSTOR in his office at Harvard. He chose to sneak into MIT's basements to install his own hardware, and obviously illegal and inappropriate practice in direct of MIT's and of *Harvard's* standards on academic computing, and he was cutting thousands of people off from a critical, non-profit, academic resource. Aaron deserved a serious sentence, ideally a felony, because he *kept insisting on doing this*.

Being "sensitive"is not a "get out of jail free" card.

Re:Why... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about 2 years ago | (#42895423)

No, he took down JSTOR servers with excess traffic by running an overly aggressive and efficient web crawler against them,

If JSTOR's servers can be brought down by a single laptop, those servers are crap.
  I don't care how fast the connection is between them, a single laptop should not have the processing power to bring down a server.

Re:Why... (2)

beamdriver (554241) | about 2 years ago | (#42895643)

If you punch someone in the face and put them in the hospital, you don't get to say,"Oh, one punch to the face put you in the hospital? You really need to toughen up!" and get out of it. You still get arrested and go to jail.

Re:Why... (3, Insightful)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 2 years ago | (#42895807)

If you punch someone in the face and put them in the hospital, you don't get to say,"Oh, one punch to the face put you in the hospital? You really need to toughen up!" and get out of it. You still get arrested and go to jail.

And yet this is neither a face, nor is a hospital involved. This kind of retarded logic is similar to what corporations use to assign themselves rights that belong to people and not companies. Aaron may have been bringing those servers to a crawl, but he did so by using the websites, not a denial of service attack. By your logic, slashdot readers would be at fault for bringing down websites by simply trying to view their contents. Would you like to be in court for your part in "Slashdot Effect"?

Re:Why... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 years ago | (#42895919)

And yet this is neither a face, nor is a hospital involved. This kind of retarded logic...

It's called an analogy . Attacking the hypothetical part of someone''s analogy is what Scott Adams likes to call a "win by knockout."

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896703)

And yet this is neither a face, nor is a hospital involved. This kind of retarded logic...

It's called an analogy . Attacking the hypothetical part of someone''s analogy is what Scott Adams likes to call a "win by knockout."

Sorry, this is Slashdot. All analogies must be in the form of cars, and must agree with groupthink. Else it's not even an analogy and potentially dangerous to the community.

Re:Why... (2)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 2 years ago | (#42896929)

And yet this is neither a face, nor is a hospital involved. This kind of retarded logic...

It's called an analogy . Attacking the hypothetical part of someone''s analogy is what Scott Adams likes to call a "win by knockout."

I disagreed with the analogy, as he was comparing people to things in an attempt to elicit a stronger emotional response. Comparing a physical assault on a human being to bringing down a website through over-use isn't an analogy, it's a failed attempt at one. I also presented a more comparable situation, an analogy if you will, in referencing the slashdot effect. It would seem you can only recognize the first analogy you see in a paragraph, maybe you should work on that...

Re:Why... (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 2 years ago | (#42896983)

And yet this is neither a face, nor is a hospital involved. This kind of retarded logic...

It's called an analogy . Attacking the hypothetical part of someone''s analogy is what Scott Adams likes to call a "win by knockout."

I also failed to mention the third analogy, the one where I compared the original analogy to the logic that corporations use. For someone who can't recognize an analogy, I sure do use alot of them =D

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896483)

Indeed, a better analogy would be Julian Assange's Condom-Gate.

-He had a ToS aggreement for sex with a condom and was allowed to get his dick wet.
-Instead of slapping a girls cervix a couple times, he jack hammered and ball slapped a DoS-fuck that beat the pussy up until it broke the condom ToS.

Therefore:
If Julian Assange = Rapist, then Aaron Swartz = Computer Hacker.

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896781)

I'm a scientist at MIT who regularly uses JSTOR's services. It's not a big deal if their servers go down. You just try again in a few days to get the paper you want to read. It's pretty much going to be a really small edge case where there is a time-sensitive need to get a paper from them that is not available somewhere else.

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895379)

You don't get to say I'm sorry and give everything back and not get punished for the crime. Did he deserve the go to jail for years? I don't think so. I also don't think it was likely? I know all the media was hyping the 30 - 50 years angle, but apparently he turned down a plea deal of 6 months, and rumor has it that his lawyers were working on a deal that included no prison time. Swartz had already made a name for himself, and was well respected, I think it unlikely that a felony record would have burdened him all that much. So taking responsibility is as much about accepting the punishment as it is about fessing up.

Companies do that, except the "sorry" bit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896553)

And what was done by Aaron was nothing worse than impolite. Definitely not criminal.

Re:Why... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 2 years ago | (#42896443)

He violated Terms of Service of JSTOR,

He physically broke into a private computer network; that's the primary charge. And it's justifiably a pretty serious one.

Re:Why... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894889)

If you think that was the easy way out you should try it some time... Jackass.

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895693)

You first

Re:Why... (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42896013)

Yeah - whatever. I'm no bleeding heart, and I'm not crying myself to sleep at night because Swartz committed suicide.

At the same time, there WERE a bunch of cunts in DOJ who were using him to promote their own careers. He WAS being railroaded. There was nothing right about DOJ's handling of the case.

Whatever else you might say or think about Swartz, on his way out, he handed the hacker community a golden opportunity, and a weapon, to use against the DOJ. Why not use it?

I already mentioned cunts? Maybe you've noticed that cunts in Washington use other people's pain, suffering, and death routinely to further their own ends. Those kids murdered in Connecticut a few weeks ago are being used like rented mules to further the gun control agenda. Turn it around on Washington, for once. Use Swartz to force them to see what despicable cunts they really are!

Re:Why... (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 2 years ago | (#42896993)

So you're basically saying is to use the Swartz?

Re:Why... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42897213)

The man handed you a gift. You gonna use it? A simple suicide is pointless. Martyrdom is a whole new ballgame. Look at what the Moslems and the Christian Churches have done with martyrs, down through the centuries.

Charges against Ortiz? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894777)

So when will we see charges pressed against Carmen M. Ortiz? There has to be some law which covers harassing someone to the point of suicide.

Re:Charges against Ortiz? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42894841)

The problem is that everyone reaches suicidal tendencies at different points. Some people are suicidal even when living a fairly good life, others have withstood years of carefully designed physical and mental abuse. It's not like murder in which everyone has a somewhat similar tolerance. It might be closer to negligent manslaughter, but it's certainly difficult to set clearly defined criteria.

Re:Charges against Ortiz? (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#42895435)

The doctrine of prosecutorial immunity puts Ortiz above the law. There are simply too many immunities. Prosecutorial, legislative, judicial, qualified, and sovereign immunities all prevent the justice system from actually providing justice. We can't touch Ortiz for her abuse of power. We can't touch Ashcroft for violating the 4th amendment. We can't touch legislators for passing blatantly unconstitutional laws. We have no power to defend ourselves against the most dangerous criminal organization in the world, the US government.

Re:Charges against Ortiz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895661)

We have no power to defend ourselves against the most dangerous criminal organization in the world, the US government.

The founding fathers actually provided us with such power. They enshrined it in the Constitution as the 2nd Amendment.

  "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson [monticello.org]

Yes someone actually believe in the 2nd amendment (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 2 years ago | (#42896713)

and he is now allegedly dead [ap.org] .

Re:Charges against Ortiz? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#42895735)

Yes because Aaron Swartz was without faults and no one should ever have to face the consequences of their own actions.

Re:Charges against Ortiz? (1)

skybon (2253126) | about 2 years ago | (#42896999)

Had Ms. Ortiz NOT done anything against Swartz, we would have called her slacker. She has followed the law and now you want her imprisoned. Awesome.

Not gonna happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894809)

Considering how often we now hear about those pesky Chinese hackers in the news and how cyber-warfare is becoming a common thing, I think it would look very bad for a politician to appear soft on this issue.

Not that I don't agree that the CFAA is too hard on hackers when you consider punishments ofr other crimes and especially in cases where the hacking isn't even done for any selfish reasons or personal gain (which wouldn't even apply to Swartz' case since he didn't do any hacking, at worst he violated a TOS?)

Make the penalties lighter? (0, Troll)

shellster_dude (1261444) | about 2 years ago | (#42894877)

Right now a hacker can cause billions in damages, and pull potentially millions of dollars in ill-gotten loot, and maybe see 15 years in prison. That is way too soft in my opinion.

On the issue of Swartz, I don't know why the guy is some sort of cause-celeb just because he off-ed himself. He broke the law, plain and simple.

In cases where individuals get unauthorized access, and aren't doing anything with it (not Swartz who was planning to distribute), I think there could be room for more lenient sentencing, especially on first offenses.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (4, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42894957)

Then he should be prosecuted for what he actually did. You seem to conflate the means to commit a crime with the crime itself. If you stab a person in the back, you get persecuted for murdering a person, not for wielding a knife.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42895113)

You meant to say 'prosecuted' right?

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (0)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42895145)

Yes, first persecuted, until the police gets hold of you, then prosecuted in court.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (4, Interesting)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | about 2 years ago | (#42895311)

Then he should be prosecuted for what he actually did. You seem to conflate the means to commit a crime with the crime itself. If you stab a person in the back, you get persecuted for murdering a person, not for wielding a knife.

No. You get prosecuted for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a murder, wielding a knife, trespassing, aggravated assault, unlicensed practice of surgery, jaywalking, wearing blue jeans on Sunday and 25 other remotely applicable transgressions and ridiculous ancient county laws.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895965)

you only get prosecuted for murder if you killed someone by stabbing them in the back. If on the other hand you stab them in the back and they do not die but are injured you are then (and this is important because there are degrees here) you can be charged with a host of other things depending on whether or not you were caught. so if the person you stabbed never saw you and you were the only two people around for miles, most likely you will never be charged with anything. Now if you stab them and they happen to see you, (your face, tattoo, any unique identifier) you will most likely be charged with assault or aggravated assault, or attempted murder. So yes there are varying degrees and that is why we have a system that classify crimes in degrees, murder in the first, second, third. Larson in the first degree.

The big problem we have with that though is there are so many laws that you, yes all of you, including myself break every day, and here is the kicker, You dont even know your broke the law.

We need to overhaul the justice system, and reign in our out of control leaders. Stop the corporations from taking over and give the United States back to We the People!!!

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 2 years ago | (#42896585)

Swartz was prosecuted for what he actually did: he broke into MIT's computer network via a physical connection and caused their system managers several days of headaches.

In terms of cost and hassle to MIT, that's probably the equivalent of physically stealing a few laptops. What do you think should the penalty for that be?

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896707)

But if you can not prove murder then you charge them with wielding a knife and it is a fall back if the jury can't decide between murder and manslaughter but can agree on the knife charge. And the legal fees of a murder defense do tend to ruin most defendants personal economy for life even if they are found not guilty. The prosecutor is charged with trying to toss an offender under the bus whereas the defense is charged with trying every stunt allowed within the law to avoid all punishments. Punishment really starts at the point of arrest. First the bail is expensive. You will pay 10% or more even if you meet all your bail obligations. So a fairly trivial arrest can cost you thousands even if charges are dropped the next day. Then you really need a lawyer. If you own a home some judges will not allow you a public defender under the theory that you can offer your home as a fee to a lawyer. So you now have no home and you drained your bank account and your lawyer tells you flat out that he needs several hundreds of thousands to mount a good defense above and beyond what you have already paid him. Think of the innocent sports team at Duke that was falsely charged and the horror released upon them and their families by a girl too cracked out to know what she did or where she did it and a zealot of a prosecutor bringing those families to ruin trying to save their sons. Now I ask what jail time did the girl that falsely accused them receive? Oh, none at all. There's justice for you.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894995)

Gaining unauthorized access without causing willfull damages should not be prosecuted at all. Money laundering, stealing, identity theft - is a different matter, but there are laws against that, I'm sure.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895291)

Gaining unauthorized access without causing willfull damages should not be prosecuted at all. Money laundering, stealing, identity theft - is a different matter, but there are laws against that, I'm sure.

Why should gaining unauthorized access without causing damage not be prosecuted? Should we allow people to pick locks on homes, businesses, banks, etc. and not worry about it until they actually steal or destroy something.

Re:Make the penalties lighter? (2)

elucido (870205) | about 2 years ago | (#42895171)

Right now a hacker can cause billions in damages, and pull potentially millions of dollars in ill-gotten loot, and maybe see 15 years in prison. That is way too soft in my opinion.

On the issue of Swartz, I don't know why the guy is some sort of cause-celeb just because he off-ed himself. He broke the law, plain and simple.

In cases where individuals get unauthorized access, and aren't doing anything with it (not Swartz who was planning to distribute), I think there could be room for more lenient sentencing, especially on first offenses.

Prison wont deter hackers. Also the US government WANTS hackers but HATES hackers. It's a very confusing situation where on one hand you hear about the US government talking about this great cyber war in which all the US cyber assets will be made to go up against the cyber warriors and assets of China or Russia.

But then you see the same US government dishing out long sentences. If it's a so called cyber war then prison will actually make the situation worse. You send a patriotic hacker to prison for 10 years, and in prison he gets recruited into something and when he gets out he's got an intense hatred for the US government and even more skill.

I think you guys are missing the bigger picture. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42894971)

For the first time in decades, Republicans and Democrats are working together to change government for the better, and all it took was the tragic suicide of a young white man.

Soft on crime? (2)

rfrenzob (163001) | about 2 years ago | (#42895009)

Do any of the lawmakers who vote for sane penalties stand a chance of reelection with the other side running "soft/weak on crime" attack ads?

Re:Soft on crime? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895169)

Probably not. I was talking with somebody the other idea whose idea of solving the crime problem was to give criminals no rights at all, to just throw them in some fenced off camp somewhere.

He could not conceive at all how insane his idea was, he just kept going back to claiming that I'd change my tune if I were robbed. Because apparently he's so full of fear that he thinks that should be what drives the justice system. He never realized that there are innocent people who are convicted of crimes, and people who are not even charged with a crime who commit far more harm than the average person languishing in one of many overflowing prisons.

Or that there is a limit to what actions the government can take, and a government that showed such flagrant disregard for the rights of any person under its jurisdiction would be delegitimatizing itself by showing it to be a callous and cruel tyranny.

They worry about Cyberwarfare but hate hackers?! (1)

elucido (870205) | about 2 years ago | (#42895093)

This is the current situation, the governments typically claim that there is going to be this great need for talented "Ethical" hackers and that there is a cyberwar coming. Yet when we look at how the government treats even the patriotic hackers, they get treated like trash. Adrian Lamo is supposed the most patriotic hacker in America? Turned in Bradley Manning? And they thank him by basically letting the entire media declare him a snitch, an informant, and make him out to be horrible.

So if that is how they treat hackers they claim to like, and the hackers they hate end up like Bradley Manning or get persecuted into committing suicide like Aaron Swartz, where does this leave the hacker community? It's a sad state of affairs but I think it's because the government has no understanding of certain necessary aspects of the hacker community. The governments basically wants to use and exploit the talents of hackers but not give ANY recognition to hackers even if hackers save the day for them. They claim that the hackers are criminals, terrorists, and deserve 100+ years in prison? They treat hackers as if hackers are terrorists with no rights?

Is it only a matter of time before the government demands the authority to use lethal force against hackers?

Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirty (5, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42895099)

Even since Operation Sundevil, the US has had this COMPLETELY counterproductive policy of hounding talented crackers out of existence, rather than nurturing their talent. Utterly stupid, IMHO, and frankly, the people responsible for creating and enforcing this stupid policy should be ashamed of themselves.

The Chinese have this 'thousand grains of sand' thing they do, where they nurture a huge and thriving computer underground (rather than turning them all in involuntary organ donors as they would). They're sent out to smash and grab everything they can from the West, where anything garnered is processed through a specially designed intelligence gathering system, where useful material is routed to local companies and government decision makers.

Granted, the Chinese Communist Party has no morals, but we are in the world we live in, and we have to do the same to compete. I guarantee that if I had any kind of policy input anywhere, I'd be doing exactly this.

At the end of the day, we have a choice: we can either fight with all the tools in our arsenal and shape the world in the West's image -- a relatively peaceful prosperous and moral place. Or we can let the Chinese Communist Party turn it into a quasi-criminal dictatorial dystopia. It's really our choice. In any case, it's the height of suicidal stupidity to fight our enemies with our hands tied behind our backs.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (4, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 2 years ago | (#42895261)

Even since Operation Sundevil, the US has had this COMPLETELY counterproductive policy of hounding talented crackers out of existence, rather than nurturing their talent. Utterly stupid, IMHO, and frankly, the people responsible for creating and enforcing this stupid policy should be ashamed of themselves.

The Chinese have this 'thousand grains of sand' thing they do, where they nurture a huge and thriving computer underground (rather than turning them all in involuntary organ donors as they would). They're sent out to smash and grab everything they can from the West, where anything garnered is processed through a specially designed intelligence gathering system, where useful material is routed to local companies and government decision makers.

Granted, the Chinese Communist Party has no morals, but we are in the world we live in, and we have to do the same to compete. I guarantee that if I had any kind of policy input anywhere, I'd be doing exactly this.

At the end of the day, we have a choice: we can either fight with all the tools in our arsenal and shape the world in the West's image -- a relatively peaceful prosperous and moral place. Or we can let the Chinese Communist Party turn it into a quasi-criminal dictatorial dystopia. It's really our choice. In any case, it's the height of suicidal stupidity to fight our enemies with our hands tied behind our backs.

Here is the problem. The USA does compete but treats it's hackers and crackers like trash and although I cannot say China is any better, the USA has the tools to do much better than this. The USA still controls the internet itself. The USA could basically get the vast majority and practically all the best hackers and crackers on their side. The USA kinda does this but does it in a way which makes the hacker community hate or fear the US government. Fear can get people to cooperate with you but too much and they hate, the US government likes to use fear, threats, etc.

In the case of Aaron Swartz the US government was willing to use threats to try to scare him into submission. Why not appeal to some of the better emotions? On top of that, if there really is some cyber war and the situation is so desperate and there really aren't people with enough skill then the people who show any sort of talent at all shouldn't be put in prison. In World War 2 the Italian Mafia was recruited by the CIA to fight the fascists. In this example these were criminals but the point is, the US was always the most dirty of dirty at war, it's just the current iteration of the US government is secretly still dirty but in public trying to put on this impression of "tough on crime" and hatred of hackers which makes no logical sense. Ultimately these hackers CAN support the US war operations so demonizing them for what?

There has to be a clear separation between cyber-criminal and hacker. Hackers care about ethics and want to support what they believe is right whether they think it's the USA (patriotism) or social justice. Cybercriminals just want to make money and hack for the sake of hacking.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42896865)

Do they really control the internet? Maybe the connectivity between states, but I'm willing to bet, that if they cut off China, it will be back online in 24 hours and entirely independent of the USA.

There's no cyberwar between China and USA. There are minor clashes in a very stupid game that does nothing but put money in the pockets of third parties and make sensational headlines.

The economic situation will prevent true conflict from becoming reality, because right now, the USA and China both have their hands in eachother's pockets, if one goes down, they both do.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895295)

How quaint, you think morals are at all relevant, or that the US government is markedly different from the Chinese one.

They both want power, and they'll do anything to get it and keep it. Anything more is just PR.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 2 years ago | (#42896539)

OK, but in this case the US isn't even doing the "do anything to keep power" thing right.

Recruiting Hackers (1)

twmcneil (942300) | about 2 years ago | (#42895361)

The U.S. Gov't believes that the only way to enlist the help of skilled computer people is to charge them with a gazillion crimes then arrive at a plea deal that involves the hackers "future cooperation". That' why we are seeing so many of these cases where the DOJ threatens years and years of prison for relatively minor infractions.

Sadly, the Gov't may be right - this may be their only way of enlisting the talent they desire. I mean, would you volunteer to do the things they might be asking the hackers to do? Of course not! You've got morals and ethics.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (1)

alcourt (198386) | about 2 years ago | (#42895559)

Ah, the old "only [criminals|rebels|rulebreakers] have skills" argument.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42895925)

You missed the point.

The point here, is that apart from the French, the West generally only goes after government and military targets. The Chinese target civilians.

What I'm saying is that to complete with the Red Chinese, we need to fight dirty like them, instead of rolling over like pussies.

Re:Do what the Chinese government does: fight dirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895929)

speaking as a non-american, I would rather welcome chinese overlords than your supposedly 'moral' completely corrupt 'western' image.

the best thing that can happen to the world right now is if the US implodes and leaves the rest of us alone.

All laws are deliberately flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895199)

Every bill that congress writes deliberately has loopholes that widen it's scope. How many times have you heard someone in the news saying that "As worded this law can be used to " and the politicians and law enforcement representatives come on and say "oh, we would NEVER use for that" and then a month after the law goes into effect the first abuses where the law is being used to hits the news.

it won't happen for a few simple reasons. (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 years ago | (#42895385)

it won't happen because:

1. cybercrime is linked to terrorism because any crime is fast becoming linked as a terrorist act. dont believe me? just kook at the press and how they descibed the rogue cop in the news this week. because of that terrorism must be fought and eradicated so we don't have another 9/11. trust me the hicks out there believe this and so do their congressmen.
2. congress is reluctant to abolish bad laws. why? it sets a precident whereby future congressional acts would invalidate current actions and it takes a 2/3 majority just to do it. That's not happening in the current congress.
3. the police state is now upon us. the white house can kill anybody at any time because their lawyer said so. every minor offense now is considered a felony. don't believe me? we have the highest rate of prison population to overall population in the free world. yes there are other factors drugs poverty etc. but thats what the government should be focused on, not getting public paid for data by violating the use terms of some website.

Fit the crime. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895403)

The punishment must fit the crime, and every judge has an obligation to follow that. If not letter of the law, then in spirit of the law.

Do see that kids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895495)

Suicide gets results!

Response. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895833)

It has been suggested by some that there should be a retaliation on JSTOR since the government would not have even known about it unless they reported it first. The fact that JSTOR is going along with government on issues like that makes them an accessory to this crime. Many feel that would provide incentive to other companies, to not go along with that. Some have indicated they feel they have just as much right to threaten, rule and impose results on JSTOR and government, since government does that to them.

Re:Response. (1)

Lance Dearnis (1184983) | about 2 years ago | (#42896143)

Wrong target; JSTOR came out and said "This is ridiculous, please stop", but MIT didn't, so Ortiz used MIT as her impetus to go ahead.

Counter point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42895933)

Perhaps it's time the hacker community pass the "Government Fraud and Abuse Act" and if government officials are found guilty by forum, then their punishment will be decided by the same, and with equal level of punishment.

Hackers are the Other (3, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#42896045)

The CFAA has immense penalties for two reasons:

1. Lawmakers look for any excuse to be "tough on crime".
2. Hackers are a small minority group that scare most people.

Combine these two things and one can see that hackers are an "acceptable target" for both the lawmakers and their constituencies, especially with the recent Chinese red scare going on.

Hackers need a PR firm.

Is "too hard" really the problem? (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | about 2 years ago | (#42896331)

While it's always nice to see people move a step toward thinking, it's still not nearly as satisfying as thinking.

Go ahead and revise penalties for crimes, but that should be totally secondary to making wise decisions about what is a crime and what is not. When something as innocent as taking a breath of air is a crime, and you make a light penalty of $0.001 per breath, it's still a serious problem, since my BreathBot can perform 60 Gigabreaths per second.

Lawmakers, why should something like CFAA have been applicable to Swartz's situation at all? You need to amend that law so that it doesn't cover the situation that happened.

It's too broad, "hardness" issues aside.

You people ask for it (1)

Dainsanefh (2009638) | about 2 years ago | (#42896883)

Anarchy is only REAL form of democracy.

Maybe prosecutors will figure this out (3, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about 2 years ago | (#42897223)

If you're going to throw the book at someone for a computer 'crime'*, then maybe it should be an e-book instead of a book that is in in dead tree format.


*Especially when it is a 'crime' instead of real crime. You know, real crime, like the kind that involves violence, or the real crimes that occur in boardrooms, wall street and congress.
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