Harvard Internet Hero Arrested by the Feds
- Thursday, 21 July 2011
Harvard Hacking and the Feds
A respected Harvard researcher has been arrested in Boston on charges related to computer hacking based on allegations that he downloaded articles that he was entitled to get for free.
A US federal indictment was unsealed on Tuesday on charges that Aaron Swartz broke into the computer networks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to gain access to JSTOR, a non-profit online service for distributing scholarly articles, and downloaded 4.8 million articles and other documents - nearly the entire library.
The following article by John Schwartz was published today in the New York Times. Mr Swartz, 24, was something of an internet folk hero as a teenager when he helped create RSS, a computer code that allows people to receive automatic feeds of online notices and news. He has emerged as a civil liberties activist who crusades for open access to data, and opposing the privatization of knowledge.
As a matter of fact, back in 2008, Mr Swartz released a ''Guerilla Open Access Manifesto'', calling for activists to ''fight back'' against the sequestering of scholarly papers behind pay walls.
''It's time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture,'' he wrote. One goal: ''We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file-sharing networks.''
He also earned renown for downloading nearly 20 million pages of court documents for a project that put them free online. That brought Mr Swartz under federal investigation. He was not indicted and later published the resulting FBI file online. He faces up to 35 years in prison and $US1 million ($932 million) in fines for charges including wire fraud and computer fraud. He surrendered to authorities on Tuesday morning, was arraigned in a US District Court and pleaded not guilty to all counts. He was released on a $US100,000 unsecured bond.
Fourteen people have been arrested in the US for allegedly mounting a cyber attack on PayPal, in retaliation for its suspension of the WikiLeaks accounts.The attacks on PayPal's website, by the group called Anonymous, followed the release by WikiLeaks in November of classified US State Department cables.
Anonymous is a group of hackers which has claimed responsibility for attacks against corporate and government websites worldwide. The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December.
Apparently opening governments seems much like cracking a safe vault. And we all want the precious knowledge hiding inside!
Remember: Gov2u has not become a radical organisation out of a sudden, we're just following our time - when others aren't and have no intention to do so either.