New Bill to Address Internet Activist Suicide | Adweek New Bill to Address Internet Activist Suicide | Adweek
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Lawmaker to Introduce 'Aaron's Law'

Bill named in honor of activist Aaron Swartz

California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) plans to introduce a bill that would amend the penalties in a computer-hacking law that was cited as the reason Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz took his own life last Friday. She's calling it "Aaron's Law."

Lofgren posted a draft of her simple, two-page bill Tuesday night on Reddit.

Swartz, 26, one of the organizers in the Internet community's successful protest of SOPA, was facing aggressive prosecution for downloading millions of files from MIT's network. Even though MIT withdrew charges, the prosecutor was pursuing the case that carried a penalty of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Swartz's family blamed the government for Aaron's suicide.

"As we mourn Aaron Swartz's tragic death, many of us are deeply troubled as we learn more about the government's actions against him," Lofgren wrote on Reddit. "His family's statement about this speaks volumes about the inappropriate efforts undertaken by the U.S. government."

Aaron's Law would amend what Lofgren describes as "the vague wording" in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the wire fraud statute, leading to "outlandishly severe penalties."

In her Reddit post, Lofgren invited comment on the draft bill and said she is seeking cosponsors for the bill.

Reddit is becoming the social media platform du jour for lawmakers, like Lofgren, who opposed SOPA and are now positioning themselves as Internet champions. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has also used Reddit as a platform to introduce his bill that would put a two-year moratorium on any new Internet legislation.

Swartz's funeral was held Tuesday, coincidentally the same day Reddit premiered the 22-minute documentary Silicon Prairie, celebrating the widespread use of the Internet to promote the cause of Internet freedom. 

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