The Swartz suicide and the sick culture of the Justice Dept. – Media Nation. Republished by permission of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, where this article first appeared.
Thanks to my friend Harvey for making this available to readers of Media Nation. By Harvey A. Silverglate Some lawyers are joking when they refer to the Moakley Courthouse as “the House of Pain.” I’m not. The ill-considered prosecution leading to the suicide of computer prodigy Aaron Swartz is the most recent in a long line of abusive prosecutions coming out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, representing a disastrous culture shift.
It’s difficult for lawyers to step back and view the larger picture of the unflattering system from which we derive our status and our living. Who else, after all, knows as much about where the proverbial bodies are buried and is in as good a position to tell truth to power as members of the independent bar? Aaron Swartz was a victim of this system run amok. Swartz believed that information on the Internet should be free to the extent possible. U.S. Like this: Editor's Note to Quinn Norton's Account of the Aaron Swartz Investigation - Alexis C. Madrigal. We have just published Quinn Norton's account of her life inside the Federal investigation of Aaron Swartz for the alleged crime of downloading too many JSTOR articles too quickly.
The story fills in a key time in the investigation, from Swartz's arrest on January 6 until about June of that year. Norton's narrative is deeply personal -- she was romantically involved with Swartz back then -- and it felt correct to let her tell the story her way. This post is intended to provide context for people who have not been following the Swartz case closely. Here is the basic set of facts. The prosecution alleged -- and it seems fairly certain that this part is true -- that on September 26, 2010, Aaron Swartz placed a laptop inside a wiring closet at MIT.
This drew the attention of various IT authorities at JSTOR and MIT, and they played a cat-and-mouse game with Swartz over the next few months. And it's on this topic that Norton's account should prove the most enlightening. Life Inside the Aaron Swartz Investigation - Quinn Norton. A reluctant witness's account of a Federal prosecution.
If you haven't been following the case, start with the editor's note for context. Quinn Norton's grand jury subpoena (Quinn Norton). Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it. The only private thing is your thoughts, and even they don't feel safe anymore. Every word you speak or write can be used, manipulated, or played like a card against your future and the future of those you love.
The lawyers tell you: Take no notes. The lawyers tell you: Talk to no one. It is the loneliest of lonely things to be surrounded by your loved ones, in danger, and forced to be silent. May you never experience a Federal investigation. Demand Progress. Aaron Swartz. Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer and Internet hacktivist who was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS and the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, the website framework web.py and the social news site, Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami.
[i] He committed suicide while under federal indictment for data-theft, a prosecution that was characterized by his family as being "the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach". Swartz's work also focused on sociology, civic awareness and activism. He helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009 to learn more about effective online activism. Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Life and works W3C United States v. Swartz. In United States of America v.
Aaron Swartz, Aaron Swartz, an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist, was prosecuted for many violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), after downloading a great many academic journal articles through the MIT computer network from a source (JSTOR) for which he had an account as a Harvard research fellow. Facing trial and the possibility of imprisonment, Swartz committed suicide, and the case was consequently dismissed. Background On January 11, 2013, two years after his initial arrest, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had hanged himself. JSTOR is a digital repository that archives − and disseminates online − manuscripts, GIS systems, scanned plant specimens and content from academic journal articles. Swartz was a research fellow at Harvard University, which provided him with a JSTOR account. Arrest, charges and indictments U.S.