Lawmaker Pushes 'Aaron's Law' After Suicide

Seeks to limit scope of computer fraud act
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2013 6:35 PM CST
This Dec. 8, 2012, photo provided by ThoughtWorks shows Aaron Swartz in New York.   (AP Photo/ThoughtWorks, Pernille Ironside)

(Newser) – A Silicon Valley congresswoman wants to tone down the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prevent what she sees as overzealous prosecution, reports the Guardian. Democrat Zoe Lofgren says "Aaron's Law" is in tribute to Aaron Swartz, the free-information Internet activist who killed himself last week. Swartz faced 35 years in prison and millions in fines on charges that he illegally accessed online academic documents at MIT.

"His family's statement about this speaks volumes about the inappropriate efforts undertaken by the US government," Lofgren wrote on Reddit, a site that Swartz helped build. The way prosecutors interpreted the law "could criminalize many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties," she wrote, reports the Los Angeles Times. Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, a friend of Swartz's, praised the legislation as "critically important." Read Lofgren's post, and Lessig's take on it, here. (Read more Aaron Swartz stories.)

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