Nick Bilton, writing for the NYT Bits blog:
Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and online political
activist, was indicted Tuesday in Boston on charges that he stole
over four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and
The charges were filed by the United States Attorney for the
District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, and could result in up
to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
In a press release, Ms. Ortiz’s office said that Mr. Swartz
broke into a restricted area of M.I.T. and entered a computer
wiring closet. Mr. Swartz apparently then accessed the M.I.T.
computer network and stole millions of documents from JSTOR.
Demand Progress, the political activism group Swartz founded, has a response:
“This makes no sense,” said Demand Progress Executive Director
David Segal; “it’s like trying to put someone in jail for
allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”
“It’s even more strange because the alleged victim has settled
any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or
damage, and asked the government not to prosecute,” Segal added.
They don’t address the charge that Swartz “broke into a restricted area of M.I.T. and entered a computer wiring closet”, but the fact that MIT/JSTOR apparently asked the government not to prosecute seems compelling.
Update: Via Jason Levine, here’s a copy of the indictment. The damning bit:
On January 4, 2011, Aaron Swartz was observed entering the
restricted basement network wiring closet to replace an external
hard drive attached to his computer. On January 6, 2011, Swartz
returned to the wiring closet to remove his computer equipment.
This time he attempted to evade identification at the entrance to
the restricted area. As Swartz entered the wiring closet, he held
his bicycle helmet like a mask to shield his face, looking through
ventilation holes in the helmet. Swartz then removed his computer
equipment from the closet, put it in his backpack, and left, again
masking his face with the bicycle helmet before peering through a
crack in the double doors and cautiously stepping out.
★ Tuesday, 19 July 2011