I am honored to have been quoted in today’s Computerworld article about Aaron Swartz and reforming the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act titled A year after Swartz suicide, reform of anti-hacking law remains elusive: Calls for changing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act have made little headway. The article also quotes Hanni Fakhoury of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University School of Law, both intellectual heavy weights in this arena. I am humbled to be included in any article with them.
Here is my section of the article:
Shawn Tuma, an attorney with the law firm BrittonTuma in Plano, Texas, who has defended clients in CFAA lawsuits, said the real problem is not with the law, but the manner in which prosecutors have applied it.
“I think the CFAA is a powerful and good tool,” Tuma said. “But we have seen some horrible abuses [of the law] by government,” he said.
The law needs to be revised in order to allow for lesser charges such as misdemeanors, Tuma said. “I don’t agree with felony charges for terms of service and contract violations.”
But scrapping the law or making wholesale changes to it, as some are calling for, is not a good idea, he said. The CFAA is an effective tool against data theft and sabotage. Businesses need such laws to keep information secure, he said. Congress realizes that, which is why it has been so reluctant to support calls for CFAA reform in a bigger way, he said.
Swartz’s death, and the subsequent calls for CFAA reform, have also made both prosecutors and courts more careful in ensuring that the law is applied in the spirit in which it was written, Tuma said.