If you read Reason, you're immediately suspicious of laws with people's names on them; they're often more about PR than about well-thought-out policy changes.
Granick makes pretty good arguments that it's the sentencing structure of CFAA that creates the largest problems (a low evidentiary standard for establishing damages, not to mention the ridiculousness of criminal sentences that scale with the number of documents you download). But more importantly, prosecutorial misconduct is at the heart of this case. Surely we're going to do something about that, right?
Obviously, I don't think TOS violations should be felonies, for whatever that's worth. Lessig, on Reddit, says it's critically important.
The most worrying bit is the part where she says that people will plead guilty to things they did not actually do just to not have the chance at a much worse sentence during a trial stacked against them. This is not about justice at all, it's just a numbers game.
However the people being prosecuted don't know in advance what sentence they will receive exactly. Sentencing is carried out after the verdict (sometime quite a while after if "pre-sentence reports" need to be compiled). There are sentencing guidelines, so they have a reasonable idea or starting point, but there is much variation in these due to many different mitigation or aggravating factors.
Particularly at the "low" end, a person may not know whether they will be getting 33% off a community order or 33% off a jail sentence.
Still, there are very, very few occasions where it is reported that innocent people plead guilty due to the reduction in risk. That may also be due to the reasonable lengths of the starting sentences.
The majority that go through the courts, that is those who are actually guilty, plead guilty. They get a small "reward" for not tying up the courts unnecessarily.
My personal opinion is that in an ideal world we wouldn't offer any plea deals, but we don't live in that world. Yet.
Is part of the plea bargain deal not discussing your innocence? In other words, how do we know whether people taking plea bargains are innocent?
In this case it sounds like the prosecutor was going for 70x the plea offer before the plea was even rejected. Simply outrageous.
Is that better? There comes a point where it doesn't make a difference anymore.
Ever see a sale like that? Where one day something costs 10 bucks and then the next day it's 170? Me neither. That's not a deal. It's blackmail. Do what we want or we'll do our best to destroy your whole life. Justice, eh?
Not a good idea. Well connected people will get off lightly.
Monetary compensation though? That's a whole nother can of worms. Although I've got to wonder if the incentives are aligned such that it would encourage better prison conditions.
Just was trying to think of ways for 'social proof' that certain sentences were outrageous and ridiculous (beyond juries, since their "peer" requirement has been effectively destroyed in today's specialization-based society).
But prison sucks not just because you have to eat crappy food. It's because you have to eat crappy food everyday. If a rotating crew each serves one day, what's that? I can go a day without eating. This is a sum of the parts less than the whole situation. And the key is that people in jail aren't free to pick their schedule. You don't get to swap out with a buddy so you can attend your sister's wedding. If you're stuck in a shitty place unless you get someone to cover your shift, you're not in prison. You're working at walmart.
Incidentally, I've read that hiring prison doubles is a thing in China. It's illegal, so you're effectively under house arrest for the duration to avoid detection, but you're also not in prison. The guy you hired to show up and say your name is.
If a sentence is outrageous, you get a crowd of people to march around and protest until the governor or president grants a pardon. That's the existing process to deal with exceptional circumstances.
And if it were gangsters, it seems like it would have the opposite effect. Three square meals a day and some downtime to plan your next misdeed. And heck, the same goes for activists actually. So there would have to be no personal contact. Not that the US prison system is in any way about rehab.
> If it's a safe place to keep bad people, you're not keeping them there ... This is a sum of the parts less than the whole situation
Well presumably only other bad people sign up to help out bad people, and the idea would be that only with enough support, the sum of the parts would indeed be reduced. Trying to gauge my own utility function, it feels that sentences from between 3 months to 2 years would have corresponding increasing harshness on life-as-I-know-it. Under and it's a vacation, over and my present existence is basically completely gone. Of course those with a different uh, world view, would have a wildly different utility function.
OTOH this is clearly not a DIY avenue, and if that political will were actually available, instead of further codifying the prison industry why not just actually fix the damned legal system instead - vague laws, prosecutorial overreach, understandable due process, right to representation, broken sentencing, etc.
At 10x, knowing that you are innocent is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand and it simply becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils, because a good is not a realistic option.
Any system that results in accepted guilty pleas for such cases is broken and evil, and should be destroyed.
Suppose the prosecution makes an offer, they're willing to go lower, but only if they think the defense will accept. The defense then rejects the offer, perhaps with the implication they might accept a lower offer. If a lower offer is made, the defense can reject it but now they have less risk—since the offer was made the prosecution is bound to x% beyond that.
Some people might view that as gaming the system and I'm not sure it could be tuned to avoid that. On the other hand it might improve honesty on both sides of the table. The ratchet effect may keep the defense from being intimidated. The net effect should promote not guilty pleas among the innocent, but ideally it should not have that effect on the guilty.
Mainly linking because I took two other stabs at ways to address the prosecutorial issues here.
Have you seen any halfway credible summary on what he did? I'll probably read the formal indictment eventually, but I'm not expecting a real balanced presentation. To be clear: just asking if anyone has a good hyperlink.
For example, I'd like to know what did he do on the Wifi other than change his MAC address?
It's said he "broke into" the wiring closet. Did he use an axe? Pick the lock? Was it unlocked? Once in, did he simply plug in to the Ethernet like any good network citizen would do (to avoid hogging the Wifi).
Once on the network, did he root boxes or simply request documents that the server was happy to give him?
EDIT: OK I found this http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartz... written by Alex Stamos, expert witness for Aaron's defense. Alex is well-respected. I know thing or two about network security and this piece certainly sounds like how I would view it.
The wiring closet he "broke into" wasn't even locked and "was also used to store personal effects by a homeless man"? This prosecution is a complete and total outrage.
This blog describes a scenario in which JSTOR blocked Aaron's IP, then MIT blocked his MAC address, then JSTOR blocked an MIT IP range after he kept circumventing their attempts to cut him off. Ultimately, "Swartz broke into a closet in the basement of a building at MIT and connected his computer directly to the network — hiding his computer under a box so no one would see it."
That's always the part on TV where the defense objects to the prosecution drawing inferences or something like that.
Even if we saw him on authentic video placing a box over a computer, it's still something very different to say it was so no one else would see it.
Orin Kerr said that stuff matters at trial.
The law cannot hope to capture every possible nuance of all conceivable offenses. As every lawyer who's ever argued with a Hacker on HN has pointed out, the law is not a programming language and courts aren't computer architectures. We want our rules, laws, and metalaws to provide every protection to the accused that they reasonably can, but at some point it's always going to come down to the discretion of humans appointed to positions of authority. Those authorities need to be equal to the task, or we delegitimize the whole effort.
I'm sad about what happened to Aaron. I look at the photos of him in his teens hanging out with Dave Winer and Lawrence Lessig; he was a small kid, and I have a big 13 year old. I exchanged an email or two with him, but my wife didn't know him at all and she's upset, as I would assume any parent reading about this would be. And obviously in light of what happened, I'm a little harsh on how I interacted with Aaron online --- not on the prosecution threads, but you know, on threads about "hollywood launches" and stuff like that.
But beyond that, what happened offends me in principle. If they're not the exact same principles that you've had offended, that doesn't matter much, does it? The justice system seems to have achieved a pretty high level of coverage in offended principles.
Specifics? I don't recall seeing this, but maybe I'm just unobservant.
> The law cannot hope to capture every possible nuance of all conceivable offenses
On the other hand, the point of having the law instead of The Decider is that acceptability of a particular behavior can be reasonably foreseen. And for the long standing laws most everybody now thinks of as self-evident (murder,rape,robbery,etc), this is basically the case. But the problem with many newer widely-scoped laws, especially federal ones, is that they're highly vague and allow so much leeway, the question becomes quite unanswerable. Are these vague laws primarily used to punish bona fide criminals? Yes. But when we fail to examine the law for what it conceivably could do and instead take comfort in what it usually does, when we fail to stand up for injustices against people who are ultimately not very nice, we set ourselves up for exactly what happened here - a grave injustice against an unlucky blatantly-undeserving target. It's simply the only thing remaining that provides any check on the expedience of the Deciders.
I unfortunately never interacted with Aaron. I identify with a lot of his optimism, even while feeling older than his naivety. I think we've probably had similar principles offended in this case. It just took a tangible incident with high wtf-levels to offend yours, where as mine go off for hypothetical possibilities and run-of-the-mill wtf-levels.
Those prosecution threads should give you pause just the same, and Aaron is absolutely not the only person that you've acted like that with. I respect you tremendously for your technical knowledge, but for someone who reminds people to 'stay classy' and who claims the moral high ground with some regularity a bit of introspection wouldn't hurt. I'd respect you a lot more still. I'm very happy to see you come around in your way of thinking about this particular case though.
I definitely don't think of myself as any classier than you; I think we occupy opposite poles of some deranged message board energy sphere. Or you're the heat miser and I'm the cold miser. Either way, I can spot a dumb argument as quickly as you can, and just because I'm imperfect doesn't mean I'm not going to point them out.
I'll take your word for it but I'm getting a different impression.
Aaron was fairly clearly being made an example out of, and I think that after the expansion of the indictment (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4528083, a thread in which you commented, and which came before the thread about Aarons friends setting up a defence fund) that would have been pretty obvious even to those not already of that opinion.
Maybe I'm slightly more sensitive to this stuff because of some of the things that happened in the wake of reocities.com but let's just say that if Aaron had charges worth a few decades thrown at him for TOS violations and unauthorized access I should probably be in jail for at least several decades because of that little gig.
I know everybody is shocked at what happened, but I'm far more shocked at Aarons' suicide than at the travesty of justice perpetrated there, there are lots more examples of such things happening on a daily basis.
We should stop talking about us, or at least, about me. This isn't about me/us.
That's probably it. I couldn't help but notice.
> This isn't about me/us.
For instance, IIRC, Weev deleted the download script that pulled data from AT&T and the data itself, once publicity had been gotten. That was construed at trial as deleting evidence.
But part of the prosecutors' case was that Weev et. al. planned to exploit the data. In that case, keeping the data would have been used against them as well.
You're not the first person to think up the "but it wasn't locked (very well)!" defense. :)
Show me a university campus where the students don't poke around in unlocked basements and closets and I'll show you a worthless university.
Entering a wiring closet with lawful intent but not a lawful excuse is trespass. For example someone left a light on and you wanted to turn it off. The property owner can generally have you removed and file a civil case.
Entering a wiring closet with unlawful intent is a crime. For example your MAC address has been blocked from the wireless network and you intend to plug in to avoid that block.
So hopefully it makes sense now. They can't just charge him for breaking into the closet (unless he did property damage), but they can charge him in addition to another crime (and you can argue till your blue in the face if THAT was a crime, I don't have an opinion). Its like the magical "with intent to distribute" if you cut up your drugs into lots of little baggies.
(IANAL, but I did have one explain this stuff to me years ago in relation to an employee termination)
What a weird system.
A little yeah. But check this out. If you steal something, you won't automatically go to jail. Someone has to sue you because of that first. Same thing, I think.
If we can s/broke in/entered/ without changing the meaning, then this "breaking" use sounds like pure spin.
This is obviously a situation where the community norms of MIT have collided painfully with the policies of its administration. Swartz thought the norms would be controlling; he miscalculated: it was the policies that mattered.
As far as I can tell it looks like "OMG! The attacker has changed his MAC address! We don't know how to stop him! He's stealing all the priceless research papers...call the DHS cyber-espionage defense unit for help! the packets are coming from INSIDE THE WIRING CLOSET!!"
MIT gives you wide power on the Internet. You aren't firewalled at all. I'm not even sure if they filter port 25.
But you also have the responsibility that comes with that power. The fact that they don't wrap you in bubble-wrap doesn't mean you can't hurt yourself or others.
So since Swartz was considered a guest on the MIT campus, he could hardly have been "breaking in" to this wide-open non-firewalled network.
But it would help others. It is a step in the right direction. I support it.
But a sentencing structure that says "fuck it, all we have to go on is damages, so go make up a plausible story and we'll use that to figure out where on the X axis of this spreadsheet you figure out" --- and "plausible story" is exactly the term when you learn about the burden of proof here --- it makes no sense at all. The same mindset, intent, and actions can't generate radically different outcomes based on how many iterations a for() loop makes before you get caught.
And at that, we're not even committed to any kind of intellectual theory of sentencing int eh first place - some lawmakers thinks sentencing is a punitive matter, some rehabilitative, and so on. Gestural politics are the norm in American criminal justice; which goes some way to explaining how we only recently had mandatory minimum sentences recognized as unconstitutional, and how the crack/cocaine disparity was addressed even more recently, despite its blatantly obvious unfairness.
I don't think legislation will go anywhere, since the house GOP will probably sink it in the name of personal responsibility.
Some of us have been reaching out to our GOP representatives, especially those who've expressed prior concerns about prosecutorial abuse of power. I see Darrell Issa - on the Oversight Committee, and hardly a liberal - has already agreed to look into the appropriateness of Aaron's prosecutors' behavior.
It's really not that hard to tie the type of bullying Aaron went through to the bullying suffered by more GOP-friendly victims like the Reese family out in New Mexico. You can wrap it all up in a nice bow of Fast & Furious. If you want the House GOP to pass this legislation, why don't you do your part and reach out?
Hopefully you'll do the same.
And to pile on, it's hardly only GOP members who believe in "personal responsibility". But that doesn't let overzealous prosecutors off the hook anyways.
Really, no crime needs more than a few degrees (it's good enough for murder, after all). Even things like aggravating factors can be used pretty unfairly.
This goes even further: if one was to carry drugs in a ziplock bag (or whatever else they're carried in, I am probably one of the few people on HN who doesn't know), when calculating the charges, it's not uncommon for the weight of a ziplock bag to be added to the weight of whatever is in it. God help someone who decides to stash the drugs away inside their spare wheel in their car.
Angry nerds is a force we can use for good -- reforming CFAA os probably useful on its own merits (I fully support this legislation), but majority of people being judicially bullied into unreasonable plea bargains (or worse, manifestation of physical or mental illness such as suicide and heart attacks) are not being charged under CFAA.
Legislating against what you term "prosecutorial misconduct" is far fetched. Can you imagine how you would word that legislation without hampering law enforcement efforts against the real bad guys? Do you really want that?
Having the law named after Aaron would be more than symbolic, it would be a perpetual reminder that overreach against programmers who in general want to make the world a better place can result in massive civil outcry, and to a large extent address your concerns too.
Yes, that is what I want, and I don't think it's too much to ask for.
After I wrote the comment above, I worried that it would read as a contrarian barb at any attempt to move forward with better computer crime laws. I don't mean it that way, which is why I went back and pointed out that Lessig thinks it's "critically important". But I meant my first question as I wrote it: would Aaron's Law really have helped Aaron?
I think the answer is: not entirely, but its a huge, practical step in that direction. This is one of those things that you celebrate, not dismiss cynically.
Think of an alternate reaction. Why not create a petition on the whitehouse to make this small step a reality instead of cynically dismissing it? Remember, your pessimism can influence a whole audience into inaction. Recent precedent suggests.
This is one of those ridiculous message board arguments where both parties agree, and the argument is actually not about the issues about about the metaissue of how people are posturing. Do you believe federal criminal sentencing is sensible or just? Here, I'll just speak for you: no you don't. We disagree on nothing. Let's move on.
Hypothetical Question: someone is accessing your network in an unauthorized way. How do you tell them? An IP is not a person, so how do you make your desire that they stop known? Block their IP? What if they come back with a new one?
Some problems really are best solved using technical means. If we stop building systems that can be exploited by arbitrary outsiders (yes, this is possible, and probably not that expensive in the long run if we standardize a few good protocols), then we can should be able to reach a point where a certain baseline of security can just be taken for granted.
I was just surprised at your suggestion that better laws would reduce your workload at Matasano.
Does it? I don't see anything reducing the excessive penalties, just somewhat narrowing what qualifies for them.
Let me be clear, I think this bill is a good bill -- I don't see anything wrong with it except that it is incomplete. It solves only a small subset of the problems we need to solve here. Narrowing the definition of unauthorized access can only be a good thing, but I could reasonably argue that it is still too broad given the current penalties, and remains incredibly vague notwithstanding that this would explicitly exclude certain things. So either the penalties still need to come down significantly, or what qualifies needs to be further narrowed, or both. But it's a good first draft. A step in the right direction.
The law is never going to be perfect, and our outcries do more to serve as a perpetual reminder (see: SOPA) against legal overreach than any law will be.
Maybe it's less about "legislating against" the specific conduct, and more about oversight on incumbent prosecutors and ease of removal when someone proves themselves unworthy of the considerable power with which they've been trusted.
Perhaps if we didn't use incarceration as punishment for non-violent crimes, things would be a bit more civilized.
I do believe that one could argue over whether changing one's MAC address (or IP) constituted that sort of deception. So in all honesty, it's possible that he would still be convicted by a standard like that, though I would like to think that he would not. Intention would seem to be hard to prove, though reasonable minds might differ.
Separately, I think that computer crimes have disproportionate penalties right now. I really don't see any reason why using a computer to steal money (or commit whatever other crime) should merit a greater sentence than stealing the same amount by other means. I am aware that it has been like this for some time, but hackers have had longstanding gripes with this state of affairs, dating back to Morris & Mitnick.
"would your proposed 'Aaron's law' prevent the situation by which Aaron was refused a plea deal that did not include jail time?" --alexwilhelm
"If "Aaron's Law" had been law, Aaron would not have been charged with a felony, and so there would not have been jail time to refuse." --lessig
SEC. 2. ELIMINATION OF CERTAIN VIOLATIONS OF AGREEMENTS OR CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS, RELATING TO INTERNET SERVICE, FROM THE PURVIEW OF CERTAIN CRIMINAL PROHIBITIONS.
(a) FRAUD AND RELATED ACTIVITY IN CONNECTION WITH COMPUTERS. - Section 1030(e)(6) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘alter;’’ and inserting the following: ‘‘alter, but does not include access in violation of an agreement or contractual obligation, such as an acceptable use policy or terms of service agreement, with an Internet service provider, Internet website, or employer, if such violation constitutes the sole basis for determining that access to a protected computer is unauthorized;’’.
(b) FRAUD BY WIRE, RADIO, OR TELEVISION. - Section 1343 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the first sentence the following: ‘‘A violation of an agreement or contractual obligation regarding Internet or computer use, such as an acceptable use policy or terms of service agreement, with an Internet service provider, Internet website, or employer is not in itself a violation of this section.’’.
It essentially means that violating a TOS will not longer be considered "wire fraud".
The law, currently:
18 U.S.C. § 1030: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/47/1030
18 U.S.C. § 1343: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/63/1343
What he did was still plausibly wire fraud, computer fraud, unauthorized access, and computer damage.
Edit: To those downvoting me, please read Orin Kerr's take on this case here: http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-charges/
The charges against Aaron do appear legit, and I don't see how changing the definition of wire fraud to exclude TOS violations would have affected Aaron's case. Set aside the issue of whether you think the prosecution pursued Aaron's case too aggressively (I think they did) or whether you think the permissible sentences for these crimes are fair (I think they are not).
Interesting sidenote: Kerr himself defended Lori Drew in the so-called "MySpace suicide" case (2008), in which Drew was convicted of computer crimes and wire fraud for violating MySpace's TOS by "cyber bullying" 13-year old Megan Meier, resulting in Megan's suicide (the conviction was overturned on appeal). http://email@example.com/msg1...
There is no federal law against cyber-bullying, so the prosecution in that case used these same computer and wire fraud laws to go after Drew for her role in Megan's suicide.
This is the thing that's strange to me. Seems as though existing laws against harassment would apply. What is so different about this activity online than offline?
I encourage those of you who live in the United States to drop a quick line to your congressman and ask that they support this bill.
Edit: Note to PG and HN mods. With power comes responsibility. You have in the past allowed cynical posts from reaching the top and influencing opinion and thats led to tragic consequences. See the infamous Aaron post from Ed. Its happening again. I encourage you to vote down negative nonsense, even it consists of well constructed sentences and comes from people with high karma scores. Or whatever the kids call it these days.
We must pass laws mandating adequate funding for the judiciary, and mandating that after the prosecution's total expenditures surpass $50,000, the prosecution must contribute the amount it spends on its own expenses, minus the first $50,000, to a legal defense fund for the defendant.
This will ensure the government will not resort to dirty tactics like inundation with discovery materials, since they will just have to pay for the defendant's lawyers to read them all. They will not be able to subjugate defendants with their might, because defendants will have the means available to them to stand up to it.
Besides, the DoJ consumes an absurdly low proportion of the Federal budget . Even if this law doubled the DoJ's budget (impossible; they still have to pay for facilities, support staff, etc.), it is a worthy price to pay for a safeguard of the liberties we've enjoyed for nearly a millennia.
1: http://www.justice.gov/ag/annualreports/pr2012/section3.pdf#... -- page III-18. Total appropriations received: ~$27 billion, $18 billion of which went to supporting the goal, "Prevent Crime, Protect the Rights of the American People, and Enforce Federal Law". The total of Federal expenditures for FY12 was $3,538.3 billion (http://www.fms.treas.gov/annualreport/cs2012/finhigh.pdf).
--> Current world: Defendants have a choice between accepting a certain jail term of Y or risking trial where they'll get in a range from 0-X (where X >> Y).
--> Your world: Defendants must risk trial where they'll get in a range from 0-X.
How is the second one better? If you want to reduce X, then just reduce X. The same argument goes if you say that Y must be some fraction of X --- if I were a defendant, I'd want at least an option of a very small Y (and if X is too high, just reduce X).
In addition to all the efficiency arguments (jurors, court costs, etc), guilty pleas save victims and witnesses from having to show up in court, be aggressively cross-examined by defense counsel, and suffer again. Why is it beneficial for somebody who knows he's guilty and knows he'll be convicted to have to inflict pain on his victims again?
[Edit: replied to wrong post]
In cases like this, offering a low-ball plea bargain (e.g. '6 month sentence or go to trial and risk 35 years') can mean that the prosecutor's office would rather not go to trial (because they have a weak case). Seems to me that if the case is weak, then prosecutor shouldn't be pursuing it.
[Though, maybe if it's a case of significant loss to the victim (e.g. murder), then pursuing the case even when it's weak may make sense.]
Though he gets bankrupted from legal costs either way for sure
From my own experience: in mental committment proceedings, there is no halfway point between letting the defendant stay free and committing them to a mental hospital. Consequently, the prosecutor's office simply never negotiates; they take every case to trial.
He didn't say that and I hope you know the difference. Reform is desperately needed.
Beyond that, one could argue that the federal government should not be addressing petty crime at all.
EDIT: OK, how about, "any device which intentionally communicates with other devices".
Is that better?
And maybe strike "intentionally" too, or you'll have lawyers arguing about the intent of a piece of networking equipment.
I think I'll visit her office tomorrow to thank her for this; it makes me proud.
If you have any analyses you think are particularly valuable, feel free to recommend; I'm reading dozens of things per day about this story as it is, at the moment, as so many of us are.
Sorry to jump at you a bit. Most of the comments on reddit seem to be unthinking sycophantic praise, and don't really consider if this is the appropriate response.
We wouldn't need this massive, inconsistent, vague, and convoluted law system if we just followed a few fundamental moral principles. An analogy would be the overly-complex equations to support the Earth being at the center of the solar system. When the sun was rightfully placed there, the equations became more elegant.
A programming analogy would be to refactor similar laws into a more general form, follow KISS, use open-source software (free market) instead of reinventing the wheel (the type of wheel you'd find in Death Race 2000, btw), etc. But just like the programmer who gets job security from tangled, inscrutable code, Statists and lawyers do so from law.
To all the armchair legal experts of HN, here's a challenge: draft legislation that fixes what you propose and post it here.If you can't do that, you are not qualified to comment on the matter.
The EFF has addressed the technology aspects of this. You have ascended into general purpose prosecutorial reform. The legal profession has a vast number of incredibly intelligent people and the legal process has vast nuances, and to think you are an expert in the subject is downright arrogant.
You solve this problem by momentum and visibility, not tossing out arbitrary criticisms.
In the meanwhile, vote up the comment that urges readers to help get this passed.
Is this 'law' thinghy you are talking about something that only applies to people with 'law' qualifications?
Oh no you say? it applies to everyone ? OMG!
Here's my draft legislation: get rid of the laws used to incriminate Aaron as they are crazy, overreaching and unjust.
No need to polish a turd and I'm sure real crimes are already covered by non computer laws.
It looks like a XML document with some standard XSLT presented in a browser and "printed" to PDF.
Which to me sounds way too technical for any lawmaker to be doing.
Anyone got any insight into this?
Some relevant quotes:
> ...most legislation in the House is worked on by attorneys in the Office. The signed paper version submitted to the Clerk of the House on the House Floor is the official document of record.
> HOLC, the main drafters of House legislation, consists of approximately 35 attorneys and a support staff of about 15 individuals, and is headed by the Legislative Counsel of the House who is appointed by the Speaker of the House...
> Because the paper version is the document of record, the drafters provide their clients with typeset drafts or PDF files that can be printed in the client’s office. The paper version of legislation is currently created in one of two ways...
The gory details come just after that, but the site itself seems out of date. More interesting is the peek at the physical process of drafting legislation.
Say that my ToS / EULA says "By using my product, you agree to hop on one foot while doing so." If some terrible person uses my product without hopping on one foot, then the worst thing that can happen to them in the legal system should be civil actions, namely, I can sue them for breach of contract.
If they can be criminally prosecuted for "hacking" my software/website, that seems to go against the entire concept of having a divide between civil and criminal cases. Only the government should have the power to declare that the specific behavior of failing to hop on one foot is criminal.
Letting any private party set arbitrary rules for any other private party that are enforced by criminal penalties is just nuts.
1) Thou shall not harm those weaker than you. See too big to fail for names to go after.
2) Thou shall protect and let them have freedom of choice and experimentation and broad access to knowledge.
3) If thou cannot avoid being bureaucratic in the age of information, take into account that time waiting for decisions is painful. See 1).
4) Thou shall avoid giving money and encouraging practices that lead to 1) either in your country or in other countries. A living creature is the same everywhere.
We can't expect our 3000 year old "tresspass" and "stealing" concepts to work well as metaphors for information systems built specifically to copy information at the rate of thousands or millions of times a second.
Because if not, first time offenders almost always get probation unless they killed someone.
Some drunk drivers who killed people get only a couple years.
Destroy the economy = no jail time, free information that was already technically free = mandatory minimums?