The Case of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was 26 when he hung himself last Friday. He was a co-author of the RSS 1.0 specification at the young age of 14. He was also a cofounder of Reddit, from where he was later fired. Aaron dropped out of Stanford. He created, a Python web framework.

Swartz broke into a network closet at MIT. He placed a computer in the closet to run scripts to download articles from JSTOR, which is a journal storage system. Swartz had downloaded almost 5 million articles. JSTOR did not pursue a case against Swartz.

The Massachusetts attorney picked up the case against Swartz. The trial was to start in the spring. Swartz was pleading not guilty. He was charged with wire and computer fraud under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If found guilty, he could have served up to 35 years in jail. He also may have been liable for $1M in fines.

Swartz initially had access to JSTOR at MIT. Then they detected his massive downloads. At first, his IP address was blocked. He changed his IP address. Then his MAC address was banned. He changed his MAC address. Finally he got another laptop, broke into a network closet at MIT, and jacked into the network to download the files.