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R.I.P. Aaron Swartz
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Jan 13, 2013, 04:40 AM
 
BBC News - Aaron Swartz, internet freedom activist, dies aged 26

From Sir Tim Berners-Lee "Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep."
     
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Jan 13, 2013, 04:44 PM
 
Trying hard not to go on an anti-prosecutor rant.
     
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Jan 14, 2013, 04:26 AM
 
There is a petition requesting Obama to remove said prosecutor from office:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...wartz/RQNrG1Ck

Not that he'd do it, but it would be interesting if the number of petitioners got high to force a comment.
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Jan 15, 2013, 04:17 AM
 
It pretty handily passed the 25K mark.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 04:27 AM
 
Is 25k all it takes?

Someone died, but they chose to go down that road.
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Jan 15, 2013, 04:40 AM
 
The ultimate responsibility of a suicide rests with whoever does it, but the actions of the US DA in this case were certainly a big factor in pushing him over the line. This is an example of one or more US ADAs trying to make a political career by getting a high-profile case and being "tough on crime" by going for a high punishment. When the accused didn't cooperate by taking the punishment said ADA wanted, they added ever more absurd charges to bring the theoretical penalty to 35 years in an effort to scare him into accepting a deal. Depending on the exact details (which I don't know) this can be prosecutorial misconduct.
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Jan 15, 2013, 06:17 AM
 
If that had traction, I'd imagine the defense would have already brought it up.

Seems more likely to me this is the kind of shit you're allowed to do.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 08:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
When the accused didn't cooperate by taking the punishment said ADA wanted, they added ever more absurd charges to bring the theoretical penalty to 35 years in an effort to scare him into accepting a deal.
I apologize if I'm taking this on an unwanted tangent, but between this, drug laws, and looking at the punishments levied against the BPs and HKBCs of the world, I feel like our justice systems needs a hot dose of perspective.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 04:35 PM
 
There's also the fact that the "victims" in his supposed crime openly said they had no interest in pursuing a legal case against him.

35 years in prison for distributing documents that should be free to begin with? Yeah, I'd say the DA crossed a line here, big time.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 06:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
35 years in prison for distributing documents that should be free to begin with? Yeah, I'd say the DA crossed a line here, big time.
Not only that, but he didn't have any financial gain from this. And the pretense that these documents are worth »millions of dollars«, give me a break: only scientists are really interested in scientific articles (as a scientist you're lucky if other scientists are interested ), and most educational and research institutions have long-term subscriptions anyway. So the only time a likely potential reader has an advantage if one looks for a journal that his/her institution hasn't subscribed to. (Right now, they just ask colleagues to try and access these articles for them.)

And the potential prison sentence: I suppose I could commit manslaughter and face less jail time. That says a lot.
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Jan 15, 2013, 07:12 PM
 
I've done astrophysics research. Everything I've ever needed is online for free.

I've also done humanities research. Time to call up the ex who's at university.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 07:17 PM
 
I'm usually keen on IP rights, but this goes so far out of bounds that it disturbs me. Anon is going to have a field day with the lives of those prosecutors, and rightfully so.
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Jan 15, 2013, 07:25 PM
 
I don't mind the concept (though it's problematic in a world where things are infinitely reproducible for free), but what we have now is hopelessly broken.
     
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Jan 15, 2013, 07:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I've done astrophysics research. Everything I've ever needed is online for free.
For me (theoretical and mathematical physics), most of the newer stuff (~2000 and newer) is available at least on the arxiv, but many articles (especially older ones) are sometimes hard to get. Some journals have rather weird access rules (e. g. for one well-known one in my community, back issues weren't available even though my PhD advisor is one of the editors there), so sometimes I have to scavenge hunt for them.
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Jan 15, 2013, 08:02 PM
 
In my limited experience, Astronomy & Astrophysics has the key articles, and they have the full boat online. It's nice because there's a fair amount of valuable older research, if only for double-checking references. There's some sloppy shit out there.

Edit: to be clear though, the stuff not in A&A has also been available.
( Last edited by subego; Jan 16, 2013 at 01:54 AM. )
     
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Jan 17, 2013, 02:41 AM
 
The prosecutor is pushing back with claims they weren't going to push for the maximum sentence, and they don't make the sentencing guidelines which provide the 30 year figure.

I must admit there was a little voice in the back of my head wondering why only the maximum was being mentioned rather then a range, but it was shouted down by the RAGE voice.

I'm not letting anyone off the hook just yet, but not retaining a cool head was a failure on my part.
     
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Jan 17, 2013, 06:03 PM
 
What the prosecutors did was threaten with an absurd sentence that they would never get in court to scare Swartz to confess to a lesser crime with a jail sentence. This is apparently not uncommon in the US justice system. This can have effects like this. That is error one. It is one that is quite hard to fix - the plea bargain system is what keeps the rather heavy US justice system from collapsing from simple lack of time, so right now the amount of plea bargains cannot really be decreased.

Second error is the definition of "unauthorized access" - or rather, the lack of definition - in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It can be read to include any deviation from a license agreement, and that's exactly how the DA's office read it. There is now a proposal to fix this, and since this fix is well overdue and rather non-partisan, it seems possible that it might pass.

Third error is that information that should be public is not. In this particular case, that has already been corrected - the JSTOR docs are now public.
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Jan 18, 2013, 02:11 AM
 
Isn't the threatened sentence usually a range, and in this case something determined by the judge (which all the attorneys involved were presumably aware)?
     
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Jan 18, 2013, 02:16 AM
 
I did hear the Secret Service was involved. That sets off my alarm bells. These guys have been aching to get a bigger slice of the "cybercrime" pie for as long as I remember.
     
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Jan 18, 2013, 08:38 AM
 
Placing any blame for this suicide on the prosecutors is patently absurd. It shows a complete lack of regard for personal responsibility for one's actions, and a blatant attempt to point the proverbial finger somewhere else. It's a microcosm of today's society - it's never my fault, it's always the fault of someone else.

There. That had to be said.
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Jan 18, 2013, 02:39 PM
 
Suicide can be encouraged through threats. It is ultimately the responsibility of the individual, but to say that there are no external factors? That the prosecution isn't even at least in part to blame? That's just as absurd.

People guilty of murder have lower prison sentences than what they were threatening this guy with. It was legal lynching. 30 years in prison for copying publicly funded documents? F*ck that. I'd kill myself, too, to avoid a lifetime of rape and humiliation.
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Jan 18, 2013, 02:43 PM
 
Uh, stress is a great trigger.
     
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Jan 18, 2013, 03:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Placing any blame for this suicide on the prosecutors is patently absurd. It shows a complete lack of regard for personal responsibility for one's actions, and a blatant attempt to point the proverbial finger somewhere else. It's a microcosm of today's society - it's never my fault, it's always the fault of someone else.

There. That had to be said.
Do you think his actions deserved stacking up charges to where he could get 30 in the can?

Who takes responsibility for that?


As an aside, what do you think happens when you lock a computer genius up with a bunch of federal criminals (also known as mobsters)? Hint: it involves teaching them in exchange for security. Who takes responsibility for that?
     
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Jan 19, 2013, 02:39 AM
 
Here.

Anyone who threatens you with up to 30 years for what amounts to a terms of service violation deserves to ****ing burn in hell.

Blame appropriately placed.
     
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Jan 19, 2013, 05:17 AM
 
Strange that they can be threatened with 30 years, so that they own up to something with a shorter punishment. Doesn't something like the 5th cover this shit?
     
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Jan 19, 2013, 04:46 PM
 
That's all bullshit. He was being "threatened" - and I use that term loosely, because prosecutors have to follow sentencing guidelines, it's part of their job! - because he broke the clearly written law that he was crusading to have changed.. Why do you all seem to forget that inconvenient fact - simply because you don't happen to agree with said law?

Basically, he broke the law as a form of protest, he got charged with the required charges.....and he just kills himself as a result, without ever getting to the due process stage.

I'm sorry, I just don't see it.
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Jan 19, 2013, 05:30 PM
 
What's bullshit is your claim it was his intent to get prosecuted under the CFAA.

I've seen no evidence this was his intent. Where did you get this information? Aaron's no longer commenting, and anything he said to his attorneys is privileged.
     
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Jan 20, 2013, 07:12 AM
 
I've not seen evidence that he was trying to get prosecuted, after searching I can't find any either.
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Jan 21, 2013, 07:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
That's all bullshit. He was being "threatened" - and I use that term loosely, because prosecutors have to follow sentencing guidelines, it's part of their job! - because he broke the clearly written law that he was crusading to have changed..
He was crusading for truly free access to anything technically in the public domain, and was charged with unauthorized access under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Not the same thing - not even close to the same thing. When Swartz did not take the deal offered, they added 9 more charges to bring the theoretical max to 50 years. This is bullying.

Swartz broke the terms of service - a civil contract - and prosecutors who wanted to see their names in print used that to invent a criminal case. Courts are split on whether TOS violations can be considered unauthorized access - so much for a "clearly written law" - and that's the loophole that prosecutors tried to drive a truck through. Good thing Congress now actually considers closing that loophole once and for all - I actually think that SCOTUS would close it anyway eventually, but that would take a very long time.
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Jan 21, 2013, 07:29 AM
 
I don't know if "public domain" is quite the right term, but likewise, "theft" isn't the right term for something which is available to every university student, and were it made more freely available, still wouldn't stop a single university from dropping JSTOR, unless said university wanted to lose access to all current research.
     
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Jan 21, 2013, 10:06 PM
 
To put this another way, maybe you should be able to show actual damages before you start piling on the federal indictments.

This is apparently too much to ask.
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 03:51 PM
 
US Attorney General: Swartz case a “good use of prosecutorial discretion” | Ars Technica

Holder insisted the media had misrepresented the government's position. "A plea offer was made to him of three months before the indictment," Holder said. The attorney general said the government never intended for Swartz to serve more than six months in jail.

"Does it strike you as odd," Cornyn asked, "that the government would indict someone for crimes that would carry penalties of up to 35 years in prison and million dollar fines and then offer him a three or four month prison sentence?"

"I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were, and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was," Holder responded. "I think what those prosecutors did was consistent with that conduct."
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:04 PM
 
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:14 PM
 
I do not care for Eric Holder.
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:23 PM
 
Yeah. He was an unfortunate choice.
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:26 PM
 
To bad the ****er seems to be hanging on for the second term.
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:34 PM
 
Must be too many pot clinics still left to bust.
     
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Mar 6, 2013, 04:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Must be too many pot clinics still left to bust.
Speaking of which, former heads of the DEA had some less than reassuring words on the subject. (I have no idea where it is or I'd link)
     
   
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