THE LEDE: The suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who was facing hacking charges, has led to an outpouring of anger and calls for the reform of computer crime laws.
Marcia Hoffman, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on Monday that the tragedy shines a spotlight on "profound flaws" of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted that he is "deeply saddened" by Swartz's death, noting that the two worked together to defeat online piracy legislation last year.
"His advocacy for the greater good will be missed," Wyden wrote.
Swartz was an accomplished programmer and activist who argued that more online information should be free to the public.
Federal prosecutors indicted Swartz in 2011, accusing him of breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service of academic articles.
He faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.
In a statement on Saturday, Swartz's family blamed overzealous prosecutors for driving him to take his own life.
"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," the family said in a statement issued late on Saturday. "Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death."
MIT President L. Rafael Reif said on Sunday that the university will launch an investigation into its handling of the case.
Hal Abelson, an MIT computer science professor and former board member of Public Knowledge, will lead the probe.
"It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy," Reif said.
Poe to discuss privacy risks of drones: The Electronic Privacy Information Center will hold a symposium on Tuesday morning to discuss the privacy risks of drones and domestic surveillance.
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), law Professor Orin Kerr, law Professor Laura Donohue, EPIC's Amie Stepanovich and Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Vice President Gretchen West are scheduled to speak. The group also invited Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.
Poe is the author of the Preserving American Privacy Act, which would only allow police to use drones with a warrant and to investigate a felony.
Drones are cheaper to build and fly than manned aircraft, making them more useful to the government for aerial surveillance. Domestic drones are now uncommon, but the Federal Aviation Administration has predicted that within 20 years, 30,000 commercial and government drones could be flying in U.S. skies.
Eshoo to talk about broadband policy: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) will discuss the "new broadband agenda" at a Broadband Breakfast event on Tuesday morning. Graham Dufault, an aide to Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), and David Grossman, an aide to Eshoo, will also speak on a panel.
IBM joins software lobbying group: IBM joined BSA-Software Alliance on Monday.
“BSA is at the forefront of championing intellectual property rights that drive the technology innovations IBM is dedicated to providing,” said Chris Padilla, vice president of governmental programs at IBM. “We look forward to engaging with BSA and its other member companies to advance policies that unleash the power of innovation and expand new markets around the world.”
CNET reporter resigns, citing concerns with CBS: One of CNET's top reporters resigned after the tech news website's parent company, CBS Corp., directed CNET to disqualify Dish Network's Hopper DVR system from its "Best of CES" awards program last week.
CBS had CNET pull Dish's Hopper device from consideration from the awards program because of its current lawsuit against the DVR system. Greg Sandoval, who covered digital media and copyright issues at CNET for more than seven years, tweeted that he resigned from the news site on Monday, saying he could "no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence."
DHS: 40 percent of cyberattacks targeted energy sector: The energy sector was the target of more than 40 percent of all reported cyberattacks on critical infrastructure networks last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Malicious attacks on oil-and-gas pipelines and electric utilities occurred at an “alarming rate,” DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team warns in a recent report.
Oracle releases security update to address Java vulnerability: Oracle released a software update on Sunday to address a security vulnerability in its Java 7 software on which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alert last week.
In a blog post, Eric Maurice, a software security assurance director at Oracle, said the company recommended that users install the security patch "as soon as possible because these issues may be exploited 'in the wild' and some exploits are available in various hacking tools." Maurice said the patch addressed two vulnerabilities found only on Java software in Web browsers.
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