The Internet Defense League, an offshoot of the organic and successful social media efforts last year to block SOPA and PIPA, has put up the “Cat Signal” again — calling on the social web to move into formation and protect internet rights.
An email went out to all Internet Defense League list subscribers today, announcing that it’s “go time” to fight the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Noting the “crazy” legislation “probably means that the Department of Justice thinks that you’re technically a federal criminal,” the mail goes on to list some of the frightening scenarios under which you (yes, you!) can be prosecuted in the latest efforts to criminalize the internet.
The IDL explains that everyday web activities could land you in jail (where we hear the wifi sucks) under the CFAA, citing the following examples:
-Sharing passwords for Facebook or other social media sites with friends;
-Starting a social media profile under a pseudonym;
-Exaggerating your height on a dating site;
-Visiting a site if you’re under the stipulated age requirement (under 18 for many sites)
-Blocking cookies in a way that enables you to circumvent a news site’s paywall. (For instance, the New York Times website cannot block those who delete cookies from reading more than the allotted number of free articles each month.)
The CFAA is actually old law — but it may be expanded, and a vote can happen as soon as next week, according to the Internet Defense League. (It’s also the act under which Aaron Swartz, who took his own life in January, was prosecuted for downloading articles from the archive JSTOR.)
The IDL has organized a hub to combat the expansion of the CFAA, and the fight to keep social media free is constant and unrelenting. If you haven’t already, you may want to sign up over at the Internet Defense League’s main site for updates as they happen.
As Demand Progress’s executive director David Segal explains, what happened to Aaron Swartz was terrible — but such action could become terrifyingly common if big monopolies and corporate interests wrest control of the web from the user:
Aaron’s tragic passing has illuminated the absurdity of the CFAA as never before. This law is interpreted in a way that means that millions of Americans — perhaps even most Americans — could be considered criminals.
That’s a hallmark of authoritarianism that runs contrary to the interests and wants of most Americans and to the values upon which our country was founded — and stifles free speech and innovation. Now is the time for reform.
Even if you don’t have a website, you can help the Internet Defense League using Twitter, Facebook and other social sites.