Remembering Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz incident

Main article: United States v. Aaron Swartz See also: Aaron Swartz § JSTOR

In late 2010 and early 2011, Aaron Swartz, an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist, used MIT‘s data network to bulk-download a substantial portion of JSTOR’s collection of academic journal articles.[21][22] When the bulk-download was discovered, a video camera was placed in the room to film the mysterious visitor and the relevant computer was left untouched. Once video was captured of the visitor, the download was stopped and Swartz was identified. Rather than pursue a civil lawsuit against him, in June 2011 they reached a settlement wherein he surrendered the downloaded data.[21][22]

The following month, federal authorities charged Swartz with several “data theft“–-related crimes, including wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer.[23][24] Prosecutors in the case claimed that Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.[22][25]

Swartz surrendered to authorities, pleaded not guilty to all counts, and was released on $100,000 bail. In September 2012, U.S. attorneys increased the number of charges against Swartz from four to thirteen, with a possible penalty of 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.[26][27] The case still was pending when Swartz committed suicide in January 2013.[28] Prosecutors dropped the charges after his suicide.[29]