As part of their push for CFAA reform, groups from across the political spectrum, including the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Works, wrote the House Judiciary Committee to ask that the committee reject a version of CFAA reform that had been circulating. This version did the exact opposite of what these groups were looking for. Instead of limiting the scope of the law, it expanded it. Instead of decreasing penalties for violators, it increased them dramatically. Meetings followed the letter, and on Friday, The Huffington Post reported that the offending draft legislation, which the committee had intended to vote on this week as part of a push on cybersecurity, was being pulled from the agenda. 

The CFAA isn’t the only law groups like Demand Progress is worried about. Congress is also working on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which would allow private companies and public agencies more leeway to share information about Internet users’ activity and which has implications for privacy that worry groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. Republicans are planning to bring that bill to a vote on the House floor this week. And this bill’s harder to get people to rally around—unlike the CFAA, it doesn’t have a human face.

Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.


Sarah Laskow is a writer and editor in New York City. Her work has appeared in print and online in Grist, Good, The American Prospect, Salon, The New Republic, and other publications.