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Entries in Aaron Swartz (4)

Monday
Jan142013

Aaron Swartz' Death Fuels MIT Probe, White House Petition

Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched an internal probe of the events leading up to the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was facing federal charges for allegedly hacking into the school's journal archives.

"It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement.  "Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT."

Swartz' legal troubles began two years ago when prosecutors said he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from MIT and JSTOR, a journal storage repository.  Swartz, 26, had been an advocate for open access and the freedom of information online.

He was due to stand trial in April, and if convicted, could have faced decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.  Swartz had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Hal Abelson, a professor at MIT, who is also the founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, has been tapped to lead the school's internal probe.

"I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took," Reif said.

Furor over Swartz' death has reached the White House in the form of a petition asking for the removal of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz who pressed the case against Swartz.  The petition has been signed by nearly 12,000 people and needs 25,000 signatures by Feb. 11 to garner an official response from the White House.

Swartz's family and supporters have laid blame for his death on an aggressive prosecution that used its powers to "hound him into a position where he was facing a ruinous trial, life in prison."

"Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy.  It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," Swartz' family and partner said in a statement that also had harsh words for MIT.

"Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death," the statement said.

JSTOR, which had stated it did not want to pursue charges against Swartz, posted a statement offering condolences to his family.

"He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit," JSTOR said in a statement.  "The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset."

When Swartz was 14, he helped create RSS software, revolutionizing the way people subscribed to and consumed information online.

As an adult, he co-founded Reddit, a social news website, and railed against Internet censorship through the political action group Demand Progress.

His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, in Highland Park, Ill., his family said, and they said that remembrances of Swartz and donations in his name could be made at rememberaaronsw.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan132013

Aaron Swartz’ Alleged Victim ‘Regretted’ Being Drawn Into Hacking Case

(NEW YORK) -- The suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was due to stand trial on federal hacking charges, sparked anger from friends, family and followers, while the subscription-based journal service he was accused of hacking said it “regretted” ever being drawn into the case.”

Swartz’ federal trial on computer fraud charges was scheduled to begin in April. In 2011, Swartz was arrested after prosecutors alleged he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from JSTOR and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

JSTOR, which had stated it did not want to pursue charges against Swartz after he return the articles he had downloaded, posted a statement offering condolences to his family.

“He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit,” JSTOR, or Journal Storage, said in a statement. “The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset.”

Swartz, 26, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he could have faced decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

His family and partner issued a statement blaming the prosecution for playing a role in his suicide.

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” the statement said.

“Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”

The family set up a website for people to post their memories of Swartz.

When he was 14 years old, Swartz helped create RSS software, revolutionizing the way people subscribed to and consumed information online.

As an adult, he co-founded Reddit, a social news website, and rallied against Internet censorship through the political action group Demand Progress.

Technology pioneers paid tribute to the man who “had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it.”

“The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us,” Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig wrote.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, posted a poem, calling Swartz, who was 26 years old at the time of his death, “a mentor, a wise elder.”

Blogger Cory Doctorow posted on  Boing Boing that Swartz had “an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues”.

And in true Aaron Swartz fashion, Doctorow’s lengthy tribute came with a disclaimer: “To the extent possible under law, Cory Doctorow has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to ‘RIP, Aaron Swartz.’”

His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, in Highland Park, Ill., his family said, and they said that remembrances of Swartz and donations in his name could be made at rememberaaronsw.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan122013

Online Activist Aaron Swartz, 26, Found Dead

Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Aaron Swartz, a precocious web pioneer who advocated for free online content, was found dead in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment of an apparent suicide.

Swartz, 26, was discovered hanged in his apartment on Friday, according to The New York Times.

Swartz’s federal trial on computer fraud charges was scheduled to begin next month. In 2011, Swartz was arrested after prosecutors alleged he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from an online archive within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology network.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

When Swartz was 14 years old, he helped create RSS software, revolutionizing the way people subscribed to and consumed information online.

As an adult, he co-founded Reddit, a social news website, and rallied against Internet censorship through the political action group Demand Progress.

Technology bloggers paid tribute to the the man who “had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it.”

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues,” Cory Doctorow posted on Boing Boing.

And in true Aaron Swartz fashion, Doctorow’s lengthy tribute came with a disclaimer: “To the extent possible under law, Cory Doctorow has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to ‘RIP, Aaron Swartz.’”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Former Harvard Ethics Student Charged with Hacking MIT Computer

Photos.com/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Harvard University student has been charged with hacking into Massachusetts Institute of Technology computers and stealing more than four million scholarly articles, book reviews and other content from an academic database.

The federal indictment alleges that Aaron Swartz, 24, of Cambridge, Mass., broke into a restricted computer wiring closet in an MIT basement to access the school's network without permission. He then allegedly downloaded the articles from JSTOR, a nonprofit database for scholarly journals.

Swartz has been charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer.

"Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. "It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away."

When MIT and JSTOR noticed the unusual activity, they tried to block Swartz's computers, but he allegedly found other ways to access the database.

Swartz is well known in the technology community as an online activist and programmer. He is the founder of Demand Progress, a nonprofit political action group that works for policy change.

Swartz also co-founded Reddit, a social news site now owned by Conde Nast. He was most recently a fellow at Harvard's Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption.

"This makes no sense," Swartz's colleague, Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal, said in a statement. "It's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library."

Segal claims that JSTOR settled its issues with Swartz privately and asked the government not to prosecute. A letter of support for Swartz posted on the Demand Progress website garnered more than 15,000 supporters in less than three hours.

Swartz was arrested Tuesday after turning himself in. He appeared in court the same day with his parents and was released on a $100,000 bail.

If convicted, Swartz faces up to 35 years in jail and a $1 million fine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio