Aaron Swartz

Law That Ensnared Aaron Swartz Rooted in 'WarGames' Movie

Yes, lawmakers are that stupid

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Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who committed suicide while facing the possibility of a felony criminal conviction, was prosecuted under a law that was never intended to cover what he was accused of doing.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 dealt only with bank and defense-related intrusions. But over the years, thanks to constant pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, the scope of the law slowly crept outward.

So by the time Swartz was arrested in 2011, the tough federal statute meant to protect our national defense secrets covered everything from Bradley Manning's offenses to violating a Web site's terms of use, a breathtaking expansion that has led to a House of Representatives hearing today and other calls for reform.