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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:46 PM


The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no longer defend himself. I had hoped to ask Aaron to discuss these issues on the Defcon stage once he was acquitted, but now that he has passed it is important that his memory not be besmirched by the ignorant and uninformed. I have confirmed with Aaron’s attorneys that I am free to discuss these issues now that the criminal case is moot.

I was the expert witness on Aaron’s side of US vs Swartz, engaged by his attorneys last year to help prepare a defense for his April trial... Should you doubt my neutrality, let me establish my bona fides. I have led the investigation of dozens of computer crimes, from Latvian hackers blackmailing a stock brokerage to Chinese government-backed attacks against dozens of American enterprises...

I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron’s downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail.

At the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A network... Aaron did not “hack” the JSTOR website for all reasonable definitions of “hack”... Aaron did nothing to cover his tracks or hide his activity...
The government provided no evidence that these downloads caused a negative effect on JSTOR or MIT... I cannot speak as to the criminal implications of accessing an unlocked closet on an open campus, one which was also used to store personal effects by a homeless man...

In short, Aaron Swartz was not the super hacker breathlessly described in the Government’s indictment and forensic reports, and his actions did not pose a real danger to JSTOR, MIT or the public. He was an intelligent young man who found a loophole that would allow him to download a lot of documents quickly. This loophole was created intentionally by MIT and JSTOR, and was codified contractually in the piles of paperwork turned over during discovery... I cannot speak as to all of the problems that contributed to Aaron’s death, but I do strongly believe that he did not deserve the treatment he received while he was alive.


It seems fairly certain that Swartz was hit hard because of his political activity, not his actual crime.

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Reply The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime” (Original post)
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
Loudly Jan 2013 #1
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #4
PoliticAverse Jan 2013 #2
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #3

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:49 PM

1. Aaron Schwartz made a choice which should be made available...


Aaron Schwartz made a choice which should be made available...

To every incarcerated person.

He made that choice because of what living had in store for him.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:03 PM

2. "MIT hacking case lawyer says Aaron Swartz was offered plea deal of six months behind bars"


During plea talks held in the months before his death, federal prosecutors told Aaron Swartz and his attorney that the computer prodigy must spend six months behind bars and plead guilty to 13 federal crimes in order to resolve the criminal case short of a trial.

Swartz’s lead defense attorney, Elliot Peters, said today that both he and Swartz rejected the plea deal offered by the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and instead were pushing for a trial where federal prosecutors would have been forced to publicly justify their pursuit of Swartz.

But at the same time, Peters said, he was worried about Swartz’s emotional vulnerability and planned to try and bypass trial prosecutors, Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland, and use a letter-writing campaign from local academics to convince Ortiz to change the proposals.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:17 PM

3. the kid seems to have been a hard-core idealist.


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