Aaron Swartz’s Suicide Triggers Response From Top U.S. Lawmakers

Sam Gustin | Time | January 16, 2013

Aaron Swartz, the brilliant and mercurial young programmer who killed himself in Brooklyn last Friday, was memorialized in his hometown of Highland Park, Ill., Tuesday, as the shockwaves from his death reached Washington, D.C.

As Swartz’s family and friends were grieving in Chicago, several Capitol Hill lawmakers expressed sadness and confusion over his death. One prominent U.S. lawmaker, Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), said she would introduce reforms to change the federal law at the heart of the case.

In a bill called “Aaron’s Law,” Lofgren aims to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which Massachusetts prosecutors used to charge Swartz with over 30 years in prison. Swartz’s family has accused the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office with hounding the young activist over what they call a “victimless crime.” Specifically, Lofrgen’s bill would amend the existing law to distinguish between a terms of service violation and a federal data theft crime...