CFAA: Where the computer security law is broken

CFAA would allow frivolous prosecutions and stiffer penalties, while damping invention and free speech, opponents say

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On the best way to sway Congress to reform CFAA
Mark Jaycox, EFF:

You can tweet your representative, email them, and call them. Right now it's about raising a lot of noise so that Senators and Representatives know that users want them to make common-sense changes to the CFAA.

Josh Levy, Internet campaign director at Free Press:

Really the best, most effective way to get Congress' attention is to call their offices. Just 40-50 calls a day into an office is way more effective than 10x that number in emails.

On what people else people can to do push for CFAA reform
David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress:

If you're in school, look at your university's policies. If you want to affect state or federal legislation, the most powerful thing is to organize a bunch of constituents to visit your lawmaker or go to a town hall meeting to force them to recognize that there's a constituency that cares about these issues. The SOPA effort made that pretty apparent to lots of people, but it's imperative to have a sustained, organized defense of the Internet and free speech issues -- memories fade fast.

Mark Jaycox, EFF:

If you work for a company, you can also try to start the conversation about supporting CFAA reform. We recently put up a blog post encouraging engineers to do this. And if you run or have founded a startup or other small business, we have a letter for you to sign on expressing your company's support for reforming the CFAA.

On how to convince the public (and politicians) that CFAA reform is necessary
Orin Kerr, George Washington University:

I think people get that it's a problem if their own routine conduct is a federal crime. Everyone visits websites; everyone violates terms of service. My sense is that even politicians realize something is very wrong if their own routine Internet use is somehow declared a federal crime.

On corporate involvement in CFAA
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director and founder of SumOfUs:

One of the interesting things about bad U.S. laws is that they're generally written and lobbied for by multinational corporations -- corporations that everyone in the world has a relationship with and power over. ... Some of the biggest opposition to CFAA reform is coming from corporations -- like Oracle and Microsoft. And almost no other big tech companies are in favor of the changes, even though they should be. So, you should write/call/lobby the tech companies you feel you have a relationship with (Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft... really any of them) and push them to take a public stance in favor of Aaron's Law.

On how to sustain "free-Internet" activism
David Segal, Demand Progress:

I think that we need huge moments like SOPA to galvanize activists and scare politicians and make them recognize that Internet/free speech advocates are an important constituency. In practice though it's going to be hard to do that more than pretty rarely: SOPA antagonized basically everybody except for Hollywood/RIAA/etc, including the platforms. Most issues -- even those that are bad for Internet users -- don't manage to do all of that. So whenever we have the chance to mobilize the platforms we should do it, because it won't come around too frequently. And when it does happen it scares the hell out of politicians and creates myriad new activists who will be willing to stand with us on issues like CISPA, etc.

In general I don't know how to do engage in successful long-term activism except to ask people to stay vigilant. The other side wins when they succeed at wearing us down, when we fail to spring into action because of fatigue.

This article, "CFAA: Where the computer security law is broken ," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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