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The Boston Globe

Metro

Swartz case prompts debate over cyber law

The suicide of Aaron Swartz, the Internet pioneer and free-information activist, touched off accusations that federal prosecutors abused their power by seeking a long sentence and stiff fine against him for hacking into the MIT network. But the case may say as much about problems with federal cyber­crime law as it does prosecutorial judgment, say those familiar with the law.

The cybercrime statutes are broad — critics would say disproportionately so — subjecting even minor offenders to heavy criminal penalties, say specialists. That fact, coupled with sentencing guidelines that encourage prosecutors to take advantage of the tough sanctions, can give rise to overreaching prosecutions, they say.

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