California representative Zoe Lofgren (D) posted a draft of a bill to the popular Internet news site Reddit that could help change the laws for computer hacking. This comes after the announcement that Internet activist and co-founder of Reddit Aaron Swartz was found dead in New York this past Friday after apparently hanging himself.
Swartz was facing over a dozen criminal charges, including computer fraud, after he was accused of hacking into the academic database JSTOR and stealing millions of journal articles. If convicted, Swartz faced millions of dollars in financial penalties and up to 35 years in prison. Swartz’s defense attorney claims that the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case against Swartz was demanding incredibly harsh sentencing in order to gain publicity.
The draft bill posted by Lofgren looks to make changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, saying that the broad parameters of the law make it possible to deem far too many common online activities as criminal. Many criminal defense attorneys have challenged the reach of this act in the past, and changes to it could prevent people from facing incredibly serious charges for everyday online activities.