Every so often the interests of our community need more than just support. They need to be defended from attack by narrower interests. Just as we did when we opposed SOPA, today Gandi is taking part in a campaign with the EFF, CDT and others to help create a meaningful improvement in a dangerously broad law in the USA: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
You may be familiar with the tragic case of Aaron Swartz, who took his own life on January 11, after being threatened with outrageous penalties under the CFAA for his alleged actions in downloading academic articles. Aaron Swartz’s suicide raises serious questions about the way the law was applied, and the way it is written, which severely criminalizes common actions and blunders many of us make online, often unintentionally.
Interpretations of the current law by prosecutors must be reined in, and the law has to be targeted to stopping those who harm the interests of law-abiding public citizens. It should not be a tool for law enforcement to retaliate against activists who (whether you agree with what they do or not) act in good faith for the common good. We know there are plenty of real criminals out there, so lets help Congress make a law that works for everyone.
So far, the proposed changes are taking us in the wrong direction, and making the law broader and the penalties even more draconian.
Gandi, and the Internet Infrastructure Coalition that Gandi helped to found, have already signed a letter to congress in support of CFAA reform, and made it part of our lobbying efforts. The EFF, who Gandi supports, has put up an action campaign. Aaron Swartz’s advocacy organization, Demand Progress, has called for a week of action starting April 8, to lobby for positive changes to CFAA. The Center for Democracy and Technology has sent another letter to Congress calling for this reform, and has the support of many advocacy groups. Representative Zoe Loftgren has proposed a bill known as Aaron’s law, that would take a step in the right direction.
If you agree that we need to reform CFAA the right way, join us in supporting this reform. Contact your congressional representative, and do your part to keep the Internet safe, free, and open. That’s the only way it will continue to enable innovation such as that our community creates.