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Expanding Draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Powers

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Expanding Draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Powers

by Stephen Lendman

CFAA destroys personal freedoms.

A previous article discussed CFAA. It explained the following:

It's an anti-hacking law. It's a computer trespass law. It criminalizes accessing computer systems "without authorization." 

"(E)xceeds authorized access" terminology was left undefined.

In 1984, it was enacted. It was amended numerous times. It's primarily a criminal law. It covers seven types of offenses.

They include obtaining national security information, compromising confidentiality, trespassing in a government computer, accessing a system to defraud and/or obtain value, damaging a computer or information therein, trafficking in passwords, and threatening to damage a computer.

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A 1994 amendment permits civil actions. In 2001, Patriot Act provisions addressed computer crime. They require Internet service providers to report suspicious information or activity "without delay."

Disproportionately harsh penalties harm innocent victims. CFAA was misused against Aaron Swartz. He was maliciously targeted.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discussed congressional efforts to toughen CFAA. Law Professor Tim Wu was cited. His New Yorker article called it "the worst law in technology."

"Congress could change" it, he said, "but everyone knows that waiting for congressional action nowadays is a fool's game."

CFAA "is the most outrageous criminal law you've never heard of."

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Law Professor Orin Kerr's a former Justice Department attorney. He's a leading computer criminal law scholar. He calls CFAA unconstitutionally vague. 

No one knows what "unauthorized access" means, he says. Prosecutors can put "any Internet user they want" in prison. CFAA is "egregiously overbroad." It's "a nightmare for a country that calls itself free."

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