Suicide of Reddit co-founder causes political backlash
When Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide on Friday, critics and law makers spoke out against the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
According to the L.A. Times, Swarts was accused of stealing almost 5 million JSTOR articles from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and faced 13 felony charges including wire and computer fraud and illegally acquiring information from a protected computer.
He stood against a potential 35 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines, the L.A. Times reported.
After his death, the federal government dropped all charges against Swartz’s.
Since then, Aaron’s Law, a law that would alter the computer hacking law — the law Swartz was up against — was proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., according to the L.A. Times.
A critic of the current law in the New Yorker, described the ordeal an example as to how the legal system failed not only Swartz, but all Americans.
“No one knows, or will ever really know, what caused Swartz to take his own life.
“But his suicide, in the face of possible bankruptcy and serious prison time, has created a moment of clarity. We can rightly judge a society by how it treats its eccentrics and deviant geniuses—and by that measure, we have utterly failed,” said Tim Wu, author of New Yorker article.
According to the L.A. Times, Lofgren is hoping to limit the extent of the wire fraud statute and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Lofgren said to decipher the law the way prosecutors did in Swartz’s case could “criminalise many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties,” the L.A. Times reported.