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Thread: The CFAA: Apply when convenient? No! Be Consistent Verge Writers and Readers!

  1. #1

    The CFAA: Apply when convenient? No! Be Consistent Verge Writers and Readers!

    Love the completely opposite tenor of the internet masses when comparing the indictments of Hunter Moore and Aaron Swartz.
    On one hand, we have the Verge posting articles about how Information Should be Free, about how Swartz was the Internet's Own Boy, and how application of it was unfair. Note, each of these articles cites or is tagged with the CFAA. The comments of these and other articles are also largely filled with people railing against the CFAA and it's impact on the access to information etc.
    Yet, yesterday, The Verge posts an article where someone that is universally (and rightfully) reviled is arrested for violating the CFAA, and guess what is conspicuously absent? Any mention of the CFAA being the basis for the counts filed, DESPITE the fact that is explicitly cited in the filed court documents (which is only a few pages long, so it wasn't buried). Furthermore, the article erroneously and disingenuously implies that some recently passed California law is related to the story. It's not. This was a FEDERAL investigation of the violation of FEDERAL laws.
    Unfortunately, it was a law that is unpopular around these parts and so it went unmentioned. We don't want to give credit for a law working when it is convenient in striking down someone responsible for the largest repository of revenge porn, yet when it takes down fellow moochers we want to get all up in arms.
    If the Tech community, and those of us who follow and participate in it, want laws and rules and regulations (like net neutrality, the right to unlock phones and reasonable exceptions to the DMCA), we need to get our act together and be consistent. Be honest and not disingenuous, both as readers and as reporters. To do otherwise undermines our position across the board, and relegates us ALL to angry neckbeards in our mothers' basements.
    EDIT: AS you can see below, the article was clarified to reflect the correct basis for the indictment and arrest. Well done, Verge writers!






  2. #2
    I agree that the explanation of the counts against Moore should have been clearer. I’ve edited the post to indicate federal charges under the CFAA and to remove the connection to California’s recent revenge porn law.



  3. #3
    I think the difference in responses you’ve noted really illustrates the problem with the law: it’s written so broadly that it encompasses what to most people is a crime (hacking email accounts to steal and post nude photos) and less clear-cut cases (using open WiFi to download a trove of academic papers). I’d hope most people are not arguing that the CFAA needs to be scrapped entirely, but that as it currently stands it offends many people’s intuitive sense of what constitutes a crime.



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