How was it NOT extortion before the law?
I haven't found the text of the law to read, but I can guess.
I used to work for a place where, in the late 1980s and early 1990s we would occasionally sell ransomware to clients who had iffy credit. Pay your bill every month, and we'd send you an update to our software. Stop paying or don't install your update, and a time bomb would go off: it fails to start. The software's data wasn't encrypted or anything, but it was in a proprietary undocumented form, so it was effectively unusable. (Unless you set back your machine's clock, which would have some annoying consequences for data entry speed.)
I think what we were doing would probably be considered ransomware to most people.
The reason I wouldn't call that extortion, is that the client would agree to it beforehand (and without any coercion or duress) and they would get something of value (our software) in exchange that they previously didn't have. Don't wanna do it? Don't sign the license agreement. (Yes, back in those days, a license was actually a real contract, and customers would sign it and we'd put it in a filing cabinet. No after-the-fact "surprise! you didn't really buy this in spite of having thought so at the time you parted with your money!")
I think what we were doing would probably not be considered extortion to most people. (But I'm still glad I don't do that anymore.)