'Cybersecurity' Bill Increases Penalties for Regular Crimes

Bit of a Trojan horse


In the last three months alone, the House has released three different cybersecurity bills and has held over seven hearings on the issue. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee floated changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the draconian anti-hacking statute that came to public prominence after the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. Politicians tout this legislation as necessary to protect against foreign threats every single time they introduce a bill with "cyber" somewhere in the text. And it comes as no surprise that every hearing has opened up with a recap of computer security attacks faced by the US from China, Iran, and other foreign countries.

For many politicians "cybersecurity" is also synonymous with increasing penalties for computer crimes. The CFAA proposal floated last week expands the already broad scope of the CFAA, increases the prison time for violations, and criminalizes new actions. Politicians from both parties believe—despite research saying otherwise—that increasing penalties will serve as a deterrent to foreign crimes. Just last year, President Obama, Senator Leahy, and House Republicans all proposed expanding the reach of the CFAA by increasing its penalties. With your help these attempts were defeated when we killed the cybersecurity bill in the Senate.