OVERNIGHT TECH: BSA voices concerns with Aaron’s Law

Lofgren set out to reform the decades-old Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after Swartz committed suicide earlier this year while facing federal hacking charges. Swartz, a co-creator of Reddit, faced prison time and a fine of up to $1 million for allegedly stealing academic articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His family blamed Justice Department prosecutors’ aggressive charges for contributing to his death.

{mosads}Lofgren and Wyden argue that the anti-hacking law contains overly broad language that could potentially sweep up people for doing normal Internet activities. Aaron’s Law would amend the CFAA so breaching a company’s terms of service, employment arrangements and contracts would not be considered automatic violations. It would also change a key definition in the CFAA so it would focus on prosecuting against hackers who gain access to information by circumventing technical and physical controls, such as locked office doors, encryption and password requirements.

Kevin Bankston, director of CDT’s Free Expression Project, said the bill strikes the right balance and refocuses the attention on punishing criminal hackers, not average computer users.

“The courts, sensibly, have already started to reject prosecutors’ attempts to charge computer crimes based on violation of a web site’s terms of service or an employer’s computer use policy. Aaron’s Law would eliminate any ambiguity and make those courts’ decisions the law of the land,” Bankston said in a statement. “Only people who break into computers by circumventing technical restrictions should be prosecuted as computer criminals.”

Demand Progress, the advocacy group co-founded by Swartz, launched a website where people can sign up to “cosponsor” the bill.

“When Aaron’s Law is signed into law, it will mean that Aaron will continue to do in death what he always did in life, protect the freedoms and rights of all people,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.

Facebook names new general counsel:
Colin Stretch, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, has been named vice president and general counsel of the social networking company, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced on Thursday. Stretch will step into the role currently held by Ted Ullyot, who has been playing a major role in handling Facebook’s response to the revelations over the NSA’s surveillance programs.

Stretch served as the lead negotiator in Facebook’s 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and led the company to an appellate victory in the Winklevoss case, according to the Facebook.

“Colin has been an instrumental leader on the Facebook legal team and has earned the trust and confidence of management, the Board of Directors and our entire company. We are very excited to have him as our new General Counsel,” Sandberg said in a statement.

TechAmerica warns against immigration amendments that will ‘unravel’ Hatch-Schumer deal: TechAmerica CEO Shawn Osborne urged senators to back the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill in a letter on Thursday, but warned against adopting “major changes or amendments that will undermine” the bill’s passage. Specifically, Osborne voiced opposition to proposed changes that would strike measures in the compromise language by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on H-1B visas, which are key to tech companies.

The tech trade group opposes an amendment by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) that would require employers to hire an equally qualified American worker before offering a position to a foreign worker on an H-1B visa, which it says would “leave companies susceptible to an increase in lawsuits and unnecessary litigation.” TechAmerica also opposes an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from granting any non-immigrant visa for a year if a company files for mass layoffs under a federal labor law, the WARN Act. It also has concerns with an amendment by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that would put restrictions on employee and executive compensation. 


The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee is hosting an event on Friday that will give a primer on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and privacy laws that help protect users’ emails and phone calls. Speakers include Mary Ellen Callahan, partner at Jenner & Block; Alan Davidson, former director of Google’s public policy team and current visiting scholar at MIT; Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union; Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the Cato Institute; and Mike Vatis, partner at Steptoe & Johnson. 


White House updates intellectual property strategy:
The Obama administration is releasing a new strategy to protect ideas and prevent counterfeit goods from spreading online and spilling across the border.

The administration released an update to its strategy to protect intellectual property that aims to promote transparent decision-making and empower companies to combat online piracy and sales of counterfeit goods.

FTC’s Ramirez calls for comprehensive study of patent trolls:
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on Thursday encouraged the agency to use its authority to conduct a comprehensive review of “patent troll” activity.

During a keynote address at the National Press Club, Ramirez said patent assertion entities, which critics deride as patent trolls, have accounted “for an increasing share” of lawsuits since 2006.

Top tech executives urge Senate to pass Gang of Eight bill: The tech industry is ramping up its call for the Senate to pass immigration reform.

More than 100 top tech executives and heads of tech trade organizations — including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Cisco CEO John Chambers — urged senators to pass the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill in a letter sent to the hill on Thursday.

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