Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Congress: Is Computer Law Too Tough on Hackers?

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, has requested a briefing from the Justice Department on its prosecution of Swartz. “The crime and the punishment did not fit,” Issa said.

“The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct — while a violation of the law — did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the sentencing guidelines in appropriate cases,” Ortiz said.

“I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life,” she added.

Segal said he anticipates the main resistance to changing the CFAA will come from the Justice Department, which has consistently pushed to increase sentences for computer crimes. He argued that the department was trying to “map pre-Internet law onto the Internet.”

“That’s exactly the problem, we’ve got this intractable institution that’s not reflective, and obsessed with a blunt, binary conception of right and wrong,” Segal said of the Justice Department. “We’re trying to organize to figure out how to push back against their efforts, which I assume have already commenced.”

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