Fix the CFAA

The penalty scheme for Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) violations is harsh and disproportionate to the magnitude of offenses. Even first-time offenses for accessing a "protected" computer "without authorization" can be punishable by up to five years in prison each (ten years for repeat offenses) plus huge fines. That fact, coupled with sentencing guidelines that encourage prosecutors to take advantage of the tough sanctions, can give rise to overreaching prosecutions.

As a result, many defendants are pressured to strike a deal with prosecutors and plead guilty to a felony in order to avoid the prospect of lengthy prison sentences, and large legal expenses.

The CFAA carries incredibly harsh penalties for conduct that would be considered a minor crime, or no crime at all, in the physical world. The laws meant for real criminals, should not also engulf activists, security researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

Law professor and historian Tim Wu has called the CFAA the "worst law in technology." The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has described the government's interpretation of it "expansive," "broad," and "sweeping." And Orin Kerr, former federal prosecutor and law professor, has detailed how the government could use it to put "any Internet user they want in jail."

Congress must update the CFAA to ensure the penalties actually make sense in light of the behavior they're meant to punish.

Please join us in calling on Congress to get the laws changed today. Click here to find out who your elected officials are, and ask them to fix these broken and irrational laws.

The media says

Be Heard

  • We also urge you to contact the Kansas DA's office to express your support for Eric.

  • Barry R. Grissom

    United States Attorney, District of Kansas

    1200 Epic Center

    301 N. Main

    Wichita, KS 67202

    Phone: (316) 269-6481

    Fax: (316) 269-6484

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