Rather Than Fix The CFAA, House Judiciary Committee Planning To Make It Worse… Way Worse

from the are-they-just-fucking-with-us? dept

So, you know all that talk about things like Aaron’s Law and how Congress needs to fix the CFAA? Apparently, the House Judiciary Committee has decided to raise a giant middle finger to folks who are concerned about abuses of the CFAA. Over the weekend, they began circulating a “draft” of a “cyber-security” bill that is so bad that it almost feels like the Judiciary Committee is doing it on purpose as a dig at online activists who have fought back against things like SOPA, CISPA and the CFAA. Rather than fix the CFAA, it expands it. Rather than rein in the worst parts of the bill, it makes them worse. And, from what we’ve heard, the goal is to try to push this through quickly, with a big effort underway for a “cyberweek” in the middle of April that will force through a bunch of related bills. You can see the draft of the bill here (or embedded below. Let’s go through some of the pieces. 

Adds computer crimes as a form of racketeering 

The bill adds to the current definition of “racketeering activity” so that it would now link back to the CFAA, such that if you are found to violate the CFAA as part of an activity that involves a variety of other crimes, you can now also be charged with racketeering. More specifically, if you look at that long list of related statutes in the definition to 18 USC 1961 (1), it will also include: “‘section 1030 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with computers).” Basically, this just gives the DOJ yet another tool to use against “computer criminals” when they want to bring the hammer down on someone they don’t like. Not only could you be charged with computer fraud, but now racketeering as well. Because, you know, all you hackers are just like the Mob. 

Expanding the ways in which you could be guilty of the CFAA — including making you just as guilty if you plan to “violate” the CFAA than if you actually did so…

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