At memorial for Aaron Swartz, calls to reform federal computer fraud law
- Year: 2013
- Length: 4:52 minutes (4.46 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Since the suicide last month of open-Internet activist Aaron Swartz, many of his friends and colleagues are calling for changes to the federal law under which he was charged: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Some of them gathered this week in Washington, DC for a memorial service, including Dan Goodwin, Swartz’ coworker at the organization ThoughtWorks. He said the harsh sentences from the decades-old law don't appropriately distinguish between people who take intellectual property for their own gain and those like Swartz who download content to share with the public.
GOODWIN: Because so many years in prison can be threatened, it makes it extremely difficult for someone to take a principled stand, and say, "No that's not what the law says. That's not what the law means.That's not what the law should say." And stand up for it. Instead, they are pressured to take some lesser punishment, and the entire injustice of the law isn't put to the test.
Several Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate were also at the memorial. There, FSRN's Alice Ollstein spoke to California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, who recently wrote a bill she named "Aaron's Law." In the spirit of open access that Swartz championed, she shared a draft of the bill and asked for feedback on Reddit, the website he helped found.
That was California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, speaking to FSRN’s Alice Ollstein. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden plans to introduce a version of "Aaron's Law" in the Senate. Speaking at the memorial service, he promised to continue Aaron's "march for freedom and a more just world."
WYDEN: When Aaron hacked, a poorly written criminal law called him a "dangerous criminal." Common sense and conscience knows better. And we are going to change this unjust law. Because of Aaron and because of his family. This unjust law will not stand.