Civil Liberties

Cyber-Crime Bill Threatens Online Activism

Shades of Aaron Swartz!


The House Judiciary Committee this week circulated a bill intended to revamp the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), but Internet activists who hoped the revamp would help avoid a situation like the one that befell Aaron Swartz are not exactly pleased.

Among other things, the draft bill adds computer fraud to the definition of racketeering and increases the penalty for stealing trade secrets from 15 to 20 years. It also specifies that a "critical infrastructure computer" is one that manages or controls systems or assets vital to national defense, national security, national economic security, public health or safety—like the water supply, telecom systems, or the electrical power grid.