Computer Fraud Laws Are Flawed, This Lawyer Fights Against Them

Computer Fraud Laws Are Flawed, This Lawyer Fights Against Them


In the 21st century, we’re fighting a war over control of information. Hackers of the resistance. I’m Tor Ekeland, and I represent
hackers in federal criminal court. Tor Ekeland is a New York based
defense attorney who heads his own law firm, a firm with a nationally recognized
computer law, intellectual property, and criminal defense practice. One of Ekeland’s most prominent
cases involves hacktivist Lauri love. And it has covered in the new
documentary “Trust Machine,” directed by award winning
filmmaker Alex Winter. Why’d I take it? Because I thought it was right. I wanted to defend him because I thought that that type of
political protests is important. Lauri Love was an international
fugitive and British hacker accused of taking
part in Operation Last Resort, which ultimately replaced the front page of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines website with the game of asteroids. For this offense, along with allegedly stealing large
amounts of U.S. data, American authorities wanted Love to
stand trial in the U.S. for cyber hacking, where if found guilty he faced up to 99 years of imprisonment and nine million dollars in fines. He was engaged allegedly in a political protest against the prosecution that led to the suicide of Aaron Swartz, one of our computer innovators. Swartz was accused of downloading
over 4 million documents from a database of
academic journals that had been frequently
criticized for its high access fees. Rather than chance that 35 years in
jail and the one million dollar fine he
faced if proven guilty, he committed suicide. I thought that the Aaron Swartz
prosecution was draconian, was misguided, and it led to a young man’s death. Fundamentally if our system is such that it’s supposed to be
much harder to get a criminal conviction because
your liberty is at stake. We need to ask ourselves why we have a computer crime statute
that is actually easier to get criminal
convictions in than civil convictions in because it’s happening. Enacted in 1984, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a cybersecurity bill, was written as an amendment to the
computer fraud law. It was first used in 1989, three years after its creation, to sentence a Cornell graduate to
three years probation for creating the Morris
worm, a virus that would make a computer
dysfunctional. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
prohibits ywo things primarily – unauthorized access to a computer or unauthorized damage to a
computer. The problem with the C.F.A.A. and why it’s been called the worst
law in technology is because it doesn’t define what unauthorized access is. What’s happened is the C.F.A.A now is… it’s too easy of a tool to bring multiple felony convictions with like heavy heavy sentences and fines against innocent people or people sort of doing routine information
security, for teenagers doing.. hackers. Then you get juries and judges that
don’t know anything about computers and prosecutors have an incentive to
get a hacking conviction because hacking
convictions are sexy, and it’s just a recipe for disaster. Some things need to be punished. I’m not saying we don’t need a
computer crime statute. I’m saying this one’s horribly written, and what we need to do with this law is we need to
circumscribe and radically reduce the criminal liability under this
law. It’s I think actually hurting the computer economy because it’s
chilling information security researchers
from doing important work. The C.F.A.A. was a major player in the prosecution of Lauri Love, and the full story of Ekeland’s
defense is presented and available in the documentary
“Trust Machine.”

One thought to “Computer Fraud Laws Are Flawed, This Lawyer Fights Against Them”

  1. Tor Ekeland speaks way too fast. Had to pause a lot to hear what he's saying. People these days love to speak faster than at a moderate speed. Surely, he does speak at a moderate speed in the middle of the video, but sometimes he speaks too fast. Maybe it's because of the music.

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