It is refreshing to read cyber security news when the journalist understands how the unintended consequences of certain legislation adversely affects the nation. In this case, The Washington Post postulates why cracking down on hackers will ultimately be bad for technological innovation (emphasis added):
The problem is that simply toughening the laws on hackers by extending their scope and reach or extending the prison sentences of hackers is not going to help catch the real hackers — the criminalized, anonymous hackers who operate in places such as China. Instead, they’re more likely to ensnare the likes of hacktivist heroes such as Aaron Swartz.
Getting tough on hackers by extending the definition of what a hacker is would theoretically mean that people who even so much as retweet or click on a link with unauthorized information could be committing a felony. Moreover, the white hat hackers (the “good guys”) could be ensnared as well, since their work, at its core, is indistinguishable from that of the black hat hackers (the “bad guys”).
And that could have a chilling effect on innovation.
That’s because laws and regulations can’t keep up with the pace of technological change and end up either prosecuting the wrong people or prosecuting the right people, but on charges that far exceed the scope of the crime. Consider that the current anti-hacking federal statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), was enacted back in 1986, well before most politicians had ever heard of the Internet.