Insight: The U.S. War on Hackers

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking statute, has proved to be a highly criticized subject after it became clearer in the public view in 2003 through a number of court cases and controversial news reports, according to recent commentary in an article published by Wired Magazine. The article indicates that the CFAA has seen a newly discovered “scrutiny of  prosecutions and punishment for accessing computer data without or in excess of  authorization.”

The United States government has conducted long hearings and fixes were introduced to legislation to “change the law” but it doesn’t seem to have lessened the scrutiny of the CFAA or changed anything in general, according to the report. The commentary in the Wired article brings out the point that “the growing recognition of the powerful capabilities of modern computing and networking has resulted in a ‘cyber panic’  in legislatures and prosecutor offices across the country” As the original article title attempts to highlight, the U.S. government seems to have replaced “the war on drugs” with the “war on hackers.”

Comments indicate that –  instead of “re-examination” – a response of  “aggressive charges and excessive punishment” has been their clearly publicized solution, according to the article. The article states that the current “cyber panic” is not only pointed to the CFAA by commenting, “In the zeal to crack down on cyber-bullying, legislatures have passed over-broad laws criminalizing speech clearly protected by the First Amendment. This comes after one effort to use the CFAA to criminalize cyber-bullying — built on the premise that violating a website’s terms of service was unauthorized access, or the equivalent of hacking – was thrown out as unconstitutionally vague.

Read more of this interesting commentary and additional details about the CFAA and how the current “cyber panic” seems to be a primary focus of many organizations at the full article at Wired Magazine.

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