'Aaron's law' would limit reach of federal hacking law

A California congresswoman drafted the law in response to the apparent suicide of Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz.

A California congresswoman is drafting a bill that would limit what she believes is the "broad scope" of a federal computer hacking law after the apparent suicide of Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., posted the draft of the bill, dubbed "Aaron's law," to the social news website Reddit, writing that "using the (current) law in this way could criminalize many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties." Lofgren also posted a link to the draft on her website.

Swartz, who helped build Reddit, was found dead Jan. 11 after apparently hanging himself. He had been subject to a federal prosecution which alleged he used MIT's computers to illegally access millions of academic articles through the JSTOR database, a subscription service for scholarly articles. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

Swartz's family said his suicide was "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Related: Charges against Internet activist Swartz dropped

Related: Swartz's death fuels debate over computer crime

Lofgren wrote on Reddit that the government's charges against Swartz were "disproportionate," adding that the wording of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is too broad.

"When our laws need to be modified, Congress has a responsibility to act," she wrote.

Related: Charges against Internet activist Swartz dropped

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