Lawmakers pledge to change hacking law during Swartz memorial

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act gives prosecutors too much authority, lawmakers say

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management, Aaron Swartz

Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, has defended the prosecution of Swartz by saying her office was not seeking the maximum penalties.

Several speakers remembered Swartz's interest in politics and his willingness to work across party lines on Internet issues.

Demand Progress was one of the leading opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two bills that would have dramatically strengthened online copyright enforcement in the U.S. Demand Progress and other groups helped organize an Internet uprising against the two bills in early 2012.

Critics of overzealous prosecutions from both the right and the left need to continue to work together to fix the CFAA and other laws, said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, a libertarian think tank. But several members of the crowded shouted at Szoka when he said he couldn't condone Swartz's hacking of the MIT network.

"Knowledge for everyone!" one audience member shouted.

Organizers of the memorial service asked people to get involved in the Internet freedom issues Swartz championed and in efforts to rewrite the CFAA. His friends have set up a website to organize those efforts.

"We have to finish his work," said friend Ben Wikler, executive vice president of Change.org.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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