In the wake of computer genius Aaron Swartz’ untimely death, some US lawmakers are advocating that the government make changes to the federal statutes that the hacker is alleged to have violated before taking his own life.
Swartz, 26, died last week of an apparent suicide. Had he lived, Swartz was expected to stand trial later this year to face a multitude of counts related to a laundry-list of so-called criminal activity the United States government alleged he engaged in. If convicted, Swartz stood to spend 35 years in prison.
Citing broad prosecutorial outreach, Aaron’s father said during his son’s funeral on Tuesday, “Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government.”
The death of Aaron Swartz is an unfortunate catalyst to prompt discussion, but has proved to be a powerful one nonetheless. Only four days after his passing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) announced on Reddit — a website that Swartz himself is credited with co-founding — that she’s proposing a series of changes to the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA [PDF].
“As we mourn Aaron Swartz’s tragic death, many of us are deeply troubled as we learn more about the government’s actions against him,” she wrote Tuesday night. “There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced.”