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Redefining Internet crime charges with Aaron's Law

The way Oregon courts and courts throughout the country handle Internet crimes may soon change. That is, after Aaron's Law, a new law, is passed. The proposed law will correct some of the flaws within the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Currently, the unauthorized access of a computer -- whether there is intent to commit abuse. fraud or not -- is a federal computer crime. Once the bill passes into law, the violation of terms of service, employment agreements or contracts that deal with Internet or computer data, will no longer be considered a federal offense. The bill also aims to avoid the redundancy of being charged for the same offense multiple times.

The authors of the bill, one of whom is an Oregon representative, points out that the CFAA is vague. They pointed out that even the simple act of violating a digital company's policies constitutes a federal crime. The author named the bill after Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide after a court indictment charged him with Internet crimes.

The court's grand jury pressed charges after Swartz allegedly downloaded approximately 4 million academic journals from JSTOR, which is a digital library that charges for use. Swartz used the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's servers. The Internet library and MIT did not press charges, but the county court's jury proceeded with two separate indictments. If sentenced, Swartz could have gone to prison for a maximum of 35 years. Unfortunately, he committed suicide in January 2013.

An Internet crime must be defended in court, especially if the crime has to do with terrorism, child pornography or fraud. There are loopholes in the way data is transported and stored, and it is often difficult to show how the data has been accessed. It is advisable for a person who is facing allegations of Internet crimes to research their legal options to build a defense strategy. A good defense strategy can help prove the innocence of a person accused of the crime.

Source: NBC News, "Aaron's Law introduced, would change computer fraud penalties," Jillian Scharr, June 21, 2013.

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