The Times has an editorial Friday about legislation proposed in the aftermath of the suicide of Aaron Swartz, the computer prodigy who was being prosecuted by the federal government for allegedly gaining unauthorized access to an online repository of academic research. Known as Aaron’s Law, the bill by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) would bar computer or wire fraud prosecutions based on violations of a website's terms or policies if such violations were the "sole basis" for determining that access was unauthorized.
As the editorial noted, Aaron’s Law might not have protected Aaron Swartz, who was accused of doing more than just downloading more articles than permitted under the terms of service. But put that issue aside. Calling the bill Aaron’s Law perpetuates a practice I long have found problematic: treating the legislative process as a way to obtain justice (often posthumous justice) for an individual.
We’ve had Megan’s Law and Jessica's Law (dealing with sex offenders and named for slain children); the Brady Bill, a gun-control measure named for Jim Brady, the press secretary wounded in the attempted assassination of President Reagan; and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named for victims of homophobic and racist attacks, respectively.