Is this what they mean by winning the future? You indict researchers — and not bankers?
Former Demand Progress Executive Director Aaron Swartz was just indicted by the US government. As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading so many journal articles constitutes felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison. We disagree.
The charges are made all the more senseless by the fact that the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute.
James Jacobs, the Government Documents Librarian at Stanford University — where Aaron did undergraduate work — denounced the arrest: “Aaron’s prosecution undermines academic inquiry and democratic principles,” Jacobs said. “It’s incredible that the government would try to lock someone up for allegedly looking up articles at a library.”
Aaron Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress. He previously co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, watchdog.net, Open Library, Jottit,
and Reddit.com. He is co-author of the RSS 1.0 specification and helped launch Creative Commons.
UPDATE: He did break into a computer wiring closet at MIT, but they did decline to prosecute.