#AaronSwartz #AaronsLaw2017

Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? – via – wired.com

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, also known as the CFAA, is the federal anti-hacking statute that prohibits unauthorized access to computers and networks.

In 1984, the world was just emerging from its digital Dark Age. CompuServe, the world’s first commercial email provider, was still trying to interest users in its fledgling service, and computer viruses and worms were still largely the stuff of engineering-school pranks. But even through the foggy haze of the internet’s early days, lawmakers saw clearly the importance that computers and computer crime would have on society. That’s when Congress enacted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, also known as the CFAA. The federal anti-hacking statute prohibits unauthorized access to computers and networks and was enacted to expand existing criminal laws to address a growing concern about computer crimes. But lawmakers wrote the law so poorly that creative prosecutors have been abusing it ever since.

The law, which went into effect in 1986, was passed just in time to be used to convict Robert Morris, Jr., the son of an NSA computer security worker, who unleashed the world’s first computer worm in 1988. Since then, it has been wielded thousands of times to convict high-profile hackers and low-level criminals alike. But as computer crimes have expanded and increased, so have prosecutors’ use and interpretation of the law, stretching it far beyond what it was originally intended to cover. And in 1994 the law moved beyond criminal matters with an amendment that allowed civil actions to be brought under the statute as well. This opened the way for corporations to bring lawsuits for unauthorized access against workers who steal company secrets.
Calls for reform

There have been many calls over the years to reform the CFAA, due to the overzealous nature of prosecutors who have used it—some would say abused it—to charge conduct that critics say does not constitute a true computer crime.

One case in particular was the prosecution of Lori Drew, a then-49-year-old mother who was charged in 2008 for using a fake MySpace profile to cyberbully a teenage girl. Drew was charged with conspiring with her daughter and her daughter’s friend to create the fake MySpace page of a boy in order to draw 13-year-old Megan Meier into an online friendship with the nonexistent boy, then humiliate her. Meier committed suicide, resulting in a public outcry to punish Drew for cyberbullying. But because there was no federal statute against cyberbullying at the time, federal prosecutors adopted a novel interpretation of the CFAA. They charged Drew with “unauthorized access” to MySpace’s computers for creating a fake MySpace account in violation of the web site’s terms of service. The web site’s user agreement required registrants to provide factual information about themselves when opening an account and to refrain from using information obtained from MySpace services to harass other people.

The prosecution turned what would normally have been a civil matter—breaching a contract—into a criminal matter. The case, if successful, would have potentially made a felon out of anyone who violated the terms of service of any website. Fortunately, although a jury convicted Drew (on lesser misdemeanor charges), the judge overturned the conviction on grounds that the government’s interpretation of the CFAA was “constitutionally vague” and overreached the bounds of the law.

Another case involving misuse of the statute also occurred in 2008 when three MIT students were barred from giving a presentation at the Def Con hacker conference. The students had found flaws in the electronic ticketing system used by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority that would have allowed anyone to obtain free rides. The MBTA sought and obtained a temporary restraining order to bar the students from speaking about the flaws. In granting the temporary gag order, the judge invoked the CFAA, saying that information the students planned to present would provide others with the means to hack the system. The judge’s words implied that simply talking about hacking was the same as actual hacking. The ruling was publicly criticized, however, as an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech, and when the MBTA subsequently sought a court order to make the restraining order permanent, another judge rejected the request, ruling in part that the CFAA does not apply to speech and therefore had no relevance to the case.
A high-profile suicide

The most concerted effort to revise the CFAA came after a U.S. attorney used it to launch a heavy-handed prosecution against internet activist Aaron Swartz for what many considered a minor infraction. Swartz, who helped develop the RSS standard and was a cofounder of the advocacy group Demand Progress, was indicted after he gained entry to a closet at MIT and allegedly connected a laptop to the university’s network to download millions of academic papers that were distributed by the JSTOR subscription service. Swartz was accused of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address of his computer to bypass a block MIT had placed on the address he used. Although JSTOR did not pursue a complaint, the Justice Department pushed forward with prosecuting Swartz. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz insisted that “stealing is stealing” and that authorities were just upholding the law.

Swartz, in despair over his pending trial and the prospect of a felony conviction, committed suicide in 2013. In response to the tragedy, two lawmakers proposed a long-overdue amendment to the law that would help prevent prosecutors from overreaching in their use of it. The amendment, referred to as Aaron’s Law, was introduced months after Swartz’s death by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). The amendment would exclude breaches of terms of service and user agreements from the law and also narrow the definition of unauthorized access to make a clear distinction between criminal hacking activity and simple acts that exceed authorized access on a minor level. Instead, the amendment proposes to define unauthorized access as “circumventing one or more technological measures that exclude or prevent unauthorized individuals from obtaining or altering” information on a protected computer. The amendment also would make it clear that the act of circumvention would not include a user simply changing his MAC or IP address to gain access to a system.

“Taken together, the changes in this draft should prevent the kind of abusive prosecution directed at Aaron Swartz and would help protect other Internet users from outsized liability for everyday activity,” Lofgren wrote on Reddit when she announced the changes. The amendment, however, has withered in Congress and has so far failed to gather the support it needs to get passed.

“This reform only captured the attention of a small group of people. It’s not an issue that resonates with the public—at least yet,” Orin Kerr, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, told Forbes recently.

Some have attributed the amendment’s failure to lobbying on the part of corporations who use it to bring civil suits for theft of corporate secrets and don’t want to see it changed. Others say the problem is its association with Swartz, a figure some members of Congress don’t find sympathetic. Regardless, many say that reform of the CFAA is inevitable; it’s just a question of which case will finally force it to occur.

By Kim Zetter

source: https://www.wired.com/2014/11/hacker-lexicon-computer-fraud-abuse-act/

A Brief Overview of CFAA Cases 2009-2015

Provided below are example cases of federal prosecutions including CFAA violations charges. The case entries include links to additional materials from the case and resources related to the case. Also, the Department of Justice has published its own manual on “Prosecuting Computer Crimes” that is available online here.
U.S. v. Andrew Auernheimer, No. 13-1816 (3rd Cir. Apr. 11, 2014)

When Apple released the iPad, customers were required to purchase a contract with AT&T and register their accounts on a website controlled by AT&T using their email addresses. When testing AT&T’s security system, Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer discovered a flaw. He was able to gather the email addresses of their customers. When Weev notified AT&T that these personal emails were accessible and that AT&T customers were vulnerable, AT&T took no action. In response, he alerted the press to the security flaw and publicized some of the email addresses in redacted form. He did not possess, nor had access to, any other personally identifiable information or passwords of the customers.

AT&T responded by alerting the federal government, who then prosecuted Weev for violating the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA). In order to enhance the potential punishment from a misdemeanor to a felony, the government claimed that the CFAA violation occurred in furtherance of a violation of New Jersey’s computer crime statute, even though no conduct occurred in New Jersey. This is known as “stacking” offenses, when the federal government reaches to a state statute to ramp up the charges, even though the state and federal statute cover the same conduct.

After a jury trial, Weev was convicted and sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and to pay $73,000 in restitution. NACDL filed an amicus brief in support of his appeal to the Third Circuit, urging the court to take a narrow approach to the CFAA and limit the prosecutorial power of the government, which is available here. Holding that venue was not proper in the District of New Jersey, the Third Circuit vacated Weev’s conviction (opinion).
U.S. v. Matthew Keys, No. 2:13-cr-00082 (E.D. Cal. 2013)

On March 14, 2013, Matthew Keys, a former Reuters Social Media Editor, was indicted on multiple counts of CFAA violations for allegedly providing hackers with usernames and passwords for Tribune Company websites in late 2010 after he was fired from his job at a Tribune-owned company. The government alleges this conduct was part of a conspiracy to make unauthorized changes to Tribune websites and to damage Tribune computers. The indictment charges three criminal violations of the CFAA, including conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer, transmission of a malicious code and attempted transmission of a malicious code. These charges carry up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $750,000. Keys rejected a plea deal and went to trial. After an 8-day jury trial, Keys was found guilty of three counts of violating the CFAA. On April 13, 2016, he was sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment, 24 months of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $249,956. His appeal is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit.
U.S. v. Aaron Swartz, Crim. No. 1:11-cr-10260 (D. Mass. 2012)

Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer, entrepreneur and activist, was federally indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud and CFAA violations, including unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer. The charges stemmed from Swartz’ alleged effort to download approximately 4.8 million articles from JSTOR, which is a not-for-profit digital library, using the MIT network. Anyone on the MIT campus could access MIT’s computer network and, as a result, JSTOR, but JSTOR’s terms of service limited the amount of articles that could be downloaded at a time. Swartz wrote a script that instructed his computer to download JSTOR articles continuously and, when this violation was detected and requests from his computer were denied, Swartz spoofed his computer’s address to trick the JSTOR servers.

Swartz was first indicted in November 2011, but federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment in September 2012 that added nine more felony counts, increasing Swartz’s maximum criminal exposure to 50 years of imprisonment and $1 million in criminal fines. According to Swartz’s attorney Elliot Peters, the prosecutors offered Swartz a plea deal in which he would pled guilty to 13 felonies in exchange for a four or six month sentence. The prosecutors also stated that they would seek a seven year sentence should Swartz exercise his constitutional right to a trial. The government took this hard-line position despite the fact that the “victims” MIT and JSTOR declined to pursue civil litigation. In fact, JSTOR actually informed the prosecutors that it did not want to press charges. Tragically, under the weight of the prosecution and potential prison sentence, Swartz committed suicide on January 11, 2013. After his death, the federal prosecutors dropped the charges.

For analysis of the Swartz prosecution, see Professor Orin Kerr’s two-part session here and here, posts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation here and here, and a two-part post from Jennifer Granick at the Center for Democracy and Technology here and here.
U.S. v. Sergey Aleynikov, No. 11-1126 (2d Cir. Apr. 11, 2012)

A computer programmer, Aleynikov allegedly stole proprietary computer source from his former employer (Goldman Sachs) and transferred it to his new employer. He was charged with violating the Economic Espionage Act (EEA), the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), and the CFAA. Prior to trial, the U.S. District Court dismissed Count Three, the CFAA charge, on the ground that Aleynikov was authorized to access the Goldman computer and did not exceed the scope of authorization. Specifically, the court ruled that authorized use of a computer in a manner that misappropriates information is not an offense under the CFAA. A jury then convicted Aleynikov on the remaining counts and he appealed.

The Second Circuit reversed Aleynikov’s conviction on both counts (opinion). On count one, the court held that the theft and subsequent interstate transmission of purely intangible property is beyond the scope of the NSPA. The court similarly reasoned that the theft of source code relating to the high frequency trading system is not an offense under the EEA. Shortly after the Second Circuit vacated Aleynikov’s conviction, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office initiated a prosecution against him based on state criminal law.
U.S. v. David Nosal, No. 10-10038 (9th Cir. Apr. 10, 2012)

The prosecution of David Nosal revolved around his enlistment of former colleagues to use their log-in credentials to download certain information from company computers in order to assist him in starting a new, competing business. These colleagues were authorized to access this information, but disclosing it violated company policy. The government charged Nosal with twenty counts, including trade secret theft, mail fraud, conspiracy, and violations of the CFAA. Following a motion to dismiss, the U.S. District Court dismissed the CFAA counts on the ground that the definition of “exceeds authorized access” does not incorporate corporate policies governing use of information. The government appealed and the Ninth Circuit agreed (opinion).

The Ninth Circuit reasoned that the phrase “exceeds authorized access” in the CFAA does not extend to violations of use restrictions. The court cited the rule of lenity, as well as basic common sense, for reaching this conclusion. Specifically, the court reasoned that a narrower interpretation is appropriate since the CFAA is an anti-hacking statute and Congress dealt with misappropriation of trade secrets in another part of the federal code. As the colleagues had permission to access the company databases and obtain the information, their conduct could not be “without authorization” nor could it “exceed[] authorized access.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the CFAA counts and the government proceeded to prosecute and convict Nosal on the remaining counts.
U.S. v. Elaine Cioni, No. 09-4321 (4th Cir. Apr. 20, 2011)

The Cioni case involved a federal criminal statute that has two overlapping misdemeanor criminal offenses that prohibit hacking into email accounts. Ordinarily, first offenses under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communications Act are misdemeanors, unless committed, among other things, in furtherance of another crime. In Cioni, the government attempted stacking the misdemeanors to obtain a felony conviction. Cioni was convicted of multiple counts and appealed her conviction to the Fourth Circuit.

In an amicus brief, NACDL argued that Cioni’s CFAA offense, unauthorized access to stored email, was not committed “in furtherance of” an SCA violation, because both convictions were based on the same conduct. The government’s attempt to count the same conduct as both an underlying misdemeanor and as the basis for a felony conviction violates the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Fourth Circuit agreed (opinion), holding that the CFAA charges had been improperly elevated to felony offenses and sent the case back to the district court to reduce the convictions to misdemeanors.
U.S. v. Lori Drew, No. CR 08-0582-GW (C.D. Cal. Aug. 28, 2009)

The prosecution of Lori Drew, sometimes referred to as the “MySpace Suicide Case,” took place following the tragic suicide of a 13-year old girl. Drew and others set-up a fictitious account on the social media website MySpace in order to target this girl. Such conducted violated the MySpace terms of service and, when the conduct ultimately resulted in the girl’s suicide, federal prosecutors responded by charging Drew with multiple violations of the CFAA and conspiracy. Following a jury trial, Drew was acquitted of all counts but for one misdemeanor violation of the CFAA.

The U.S. District Court set aside the jury’s guilty verdict in an opinion rejecting the government’s position that violating a website’s terms of service can constitution a federal offense. The judge reasoned that reading the statute in such a manner would deprive individuals of actual notice and be an overwhelmingly overbroad enactment that converts a multitude of otherwise innocent internet users into federal criminals.

source: https://www.nacdl.org/criminaldefense.aspx?id=34129&libID=34098

The Aaron Swartz Case


In 1986 Aaron Hillel Swartz was born in Highland Park Illinois to Susan and Robert Swartz. Aaron had two brothers Benjamin and Noah, his father who was the founder of the Mark Williams Company, given this, it’s easy to see where Aaron had adapted his love for technology. Robert Swartz bought the family a computer when Aaron was just 4 years old and by age 7 Aaron had coded a trivia game about the famed game Donkey Kong that he and his brother played regularly. Aaron embodied the Net as if it was part of him or an extension of his being, from a young age the Net was his safe place, a place where his age or popularity had no relevance only the intellectual views and opinions of his extraordinary mind were valued. Aaron was helping to build Creative Commons as young as age 9. He was a prodigy, a kid genius, we knew at that time he would change the world, but I don’t think anyone could have imagined Aaron would touch each every one of our lives the way he did.asfiles333333333

At just age 13 Aaron was awarded the ArsDigita Prize which is awarded to young people who create “useful, educational and collaborative” non-commercial websites. Less than a year later at age 14, he was a member of the working group that authored RSS which uses a family of websites to publish frequently updated information including blog entries, news headlines, audio, and videos. RSS enables publishers to syndicate data automatically.


Aaron founded Infogami which later merged with the popular social news site Reddit and watchdog.net, help create DeadDrop and created web.py. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to rally the internet masses behind stopping SOPA and PIPA from passing into law, he opened doors that had long been closed behind PACER and freed information on a massive scale with The Internets Open Archive. He completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. To say he’s a hero is a gross understatement, what little exist of our Internet Privacy today is due in large part to the sacrifices Aaron made to defend the fragile existence that is our internet privacy. He risked his freedom along with everything he ever held close to him and volunteered to become a martyr for information, to me personally Aaron Swartz is a Saint, he dangled himself in front of a wolf in sheep’s clothing better known as our Justice System, not for personal profits or political hoopla nor his own secret agenda he did all this, for us.


These are the Arron Swartz Files

I personally have investigated this case since the day it happened I remember waking up to alerts chiming, I checked my messages and found out that Aaron had committed suicide, yes that Aaron the inspiration to every aspect of the WEDA Coalition was gone, the extraordinary machine that was his heart was no longer beating. I was beside myself, Aaron brought a lot of us hope and when they took him from us that hope was lost as well. Was this the United States goal all along? To stymie a revolution? SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act which if passed would have everlasting negative effects on our internet privacy. Thankfully Aaron founded DemandProgress.org and led the charge against the Motion Picture Association of America the largest political PAC’s in existence. Which set up a David v.s. Goliath battle for the ages with Aaron Swartz riling up the Internet masses to vote against SOPA and the Motion Picture Association of America who was pumping obscene amounts of money into getting SOPA passed into law clashing, MPAA failed miserably because people hit the streets in protest and slowly but surely the congressional approval of SOPA was reversed by the will of the People.


In being that voice behind the failure of a Bill in which billions of dollars were invested, Aaron became a target as did others like Kim Dot Com and countless other people who were doing nothing but utilizing their voices to condemn gross violations of our privacy rights. Aaron was placed on a list no different from a Terror Watchlist, he was hunted, harassed and subpoenaed into debt not mention the public embarrassment of his trial and the morbid thought of being labeled a felon. All these could be seen as viable reasons why such an extraordinary machine would choose to turn himself off, but it is in my personal opinion that although these are things that caused him great pain I do not believe that Aaron would kill himself for reasons such as the ones mentioned. I reject the notion that he was depressed before his death and deem this to be a story peddled by the establishment to weaken their own faults in the death of Aaron Swartz.


First Chair prosecutor, in this case, was a woman by the name of Carmen Ortiz a brutish predator and relentless character assassin who belittled and drained Aaron mentally, physically and financially. In researching this case you would think Aaron stole millions from the Federal Reserve, I would argue the information he was freeing and the close doors that the government has had sealed shut for a long time, that he was opening were far more threatening than the $5.000 in damages he caused to both MIT and JSTOR combined. It’s preposterous to proclaim that this case was about damages, it was about chopping the proverbial “head off the snake” and the “snake” was the movement that Aaron was starting, about the knowledge he was freeing and about the words he spoke, not for one second was this case ever about hacking or protecting MIT’s network it was always about turning off the extraordinary machine we knew as Aaron Swartz. Quinn Norton while being interrogated by FBI agents looked them in their eyes and said “You guys are on the wrong side of history” I would like to further that and say that the DOJ and MIT are also both on the wrong side of history.

“A vivid illustration that bureaucracies, once they get started, continue doing whatever mindless thing they’ve been set up to do, regardless of whether the people in them particularly want to do it or whether it’s even a good idea.” – Aaron Swartz

as files 567676879809

Fall of 2010

Aaron Swartz began downloading documents from JSTOR using MIT’s network, however, MIT did not know the identity of the of the person or group involved in downloading reams of data from JSTOR’s network. MIT claims Aaron engaged in this activity on three occasions that MIT had documented involving millions of JSTOR documents being downloaded from MIT’s server. MIT at the time was actively trying to locate and identify the person or group responsible because downloads of this scale from MIT violated the license agreement JSTOR and MIT had. According to court documents, MIT’s network was used by someone at MIT, presumably Aaron on September the 25th and the 26th. Also on October 9th and for an extended period between November of 2010 and January 6th the same day Aaron was arrested. Before his arrest he kept accessing JSTOR’s network and downloading files at what a JSTOR technician said was an “abnormal” rate they blocked Aarons IP address from being able to access their database on three separate occasions that coincide with the documented times Aaron used MIT’s network to download files from JSTOR, first on September 26th, 2010 then on October 2nd, 2010 and on January 4th 2011 two days prior to his arrest. The event in October led to JSTOR blocking access as a whole to MIT’s network for three full days, downloading files from JSTOR’s database using MIT’s network at such a massive volume raised a “profound” risk to JSTOR’s network and violated the licensing agreement between MIT and JSTOR. All these facts are evident and should be uniformly accepted, but JSTOR censored Aaron and censoring a pirate is just as bad as stealing their gold, Did Aaron violate JSTOR’s terms of services? Yes, but so do you when you say your 5’8′” and you really are 5’9″ and you sign up for some dating site. Aaron wasn’t stealing documents to make a bookstore he was doing it to free information. The question isn’t whether or not Aaron committed a felony when he downloaded more 80% of JSTOR’s database, it’s whether or not he was on the right or the wrong side in history when he committed this “crime”.


January 6th, 2011

Aaron Swartz is arrested in Massachusetts by Cambridge police next to the campus of MIT. He was charged with breaking and entering which is a felony, Aaron makes bail shortly thereafter. July 14th, 2011 nearly 7 months later Aaron Swartz is indicted on six counts in Middlesex Superior Court and 4 counts in Federal court on two separate occasions, on July 14th, 2011 and November 18th, 2011. The government dragging court proceedings on and on is a common tactic but just because it’s common doesn’t make it any less disgusting. It’s mentally debilitating to have the weight of the United States Department of Justice sitting on your chest for any amount of time, but they purposefully drag out cases only to weaken the prey they are hunting, they make sure they are that heavy burden your shoulders will never be able to shake. to be indicted by the Federal government is in of itself psychological war being launched on you and everything you love.


March 8th, 2011

The state of Massachusetts dropped their 6 count indictment and the Federal indictment was superseded the revised indictment was an astonishing 13 count federal indictment. A 13 count federal indictment and he didn’t hurt a fly, he didn’t harm MIT or JSTOR’s network, the files he took were being used for profit, a means for in which these Academic Journals were never meant to be used for, but Aaron is the criminal? I beg of any law professor to please underline for me where Aarons acts justify the actions carried out by the Office of Carmen Ortiz and the DOJ as a whole?


October 5th, 2012

In a court document, Swartz claimed MIT violated its own policy by providing the Secret Service with details and logs of his activity without warrant or subpoena. MIT’s lawyers argued that they did not violate their own policy because their private policy did not include the word “any” when speaking of data in their private policy, sad thing is they won their petty argument which only goes on to further the blatant corruption filled crusade that was launched on Aaron Swartz and his family.


November 16th, 2012

The government files their response, Judge Nathaniel M. Gordon ruled that the personal data about Aaron’s comings and goings on MIT’s network are not to be thrown out and will be heard in full. It’s at this moment that I believe in my own personal opinion that Aaron felt the wind was being taken out of his sails before the trial even began. It’s demonically ironic that Aaron was being prosecuted for in a sense violating private policy or terms and conditions of JSTOR and MIT, but it’s perfectly justifiable for MIT to violate their own policies?


December 2nd, 2012

Aaron filed a response simply asking the court for more time to give his rebuttal to the government’s response in which Judge Nathaniel M. Gordon granted him and the trial was postponed another month. Although it is Swartz asking for more time in this instance we have to take into account just how long the DOJ and more specifically the office of Carmen Ortiz has dragged this case on. Aaron was arrested in 2010, Aaron’s last submitted court document was December 2nd, 2012 nearly 3 years later. Why is the DOJ dragging Aaron’s case on and on? To weaken him financially, mentally and physically. I will point out once again that this was never a case about damages especially when those damages only amount to 5,000 dollars, this was a witch hunt, a common era crusade dead set on burning Aaron at the stake and making an example out of him not on finding justice by any means or protecting MIT’s network.

Friday, January 11th, 2013


“The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” -Aaron Swartz’s attorney Elliot R. Peters told The Tech

In the early hours of this dreadful Friday in January Aaron Swartz flipped the switch off on the extraordinary machine that was his life, why he did this will be a mystery we all take to our own graves. I’m certain I have never asked myself why so many times in a single day before. Aaron always finished what he started and when we look at all he started we must conclude that Aaron was not done. It is up to us to finish what he started, to complete his projects and to never ever let his name be forgotten.


It is in this coalition’s collective opinion that Aaron Swartz is not with us today because of the actions carried out by the United States Department of Justice and it’s horrible continuous systematically feigning justice system. Who sought nothing else but to destroy who we now know as “The Internets Own Boy” and his family, to bankrupt them and deprive them of their own peace of mind whilst violating the sovereignty of their privacy as a whole, they were no longer citizens, they were targets. Why were many of Aaron’s friends and family interrogated by FBI agents? In a case where the prosecution offered six months jail time? I would say an “abnormal” rate and not because he stole money or credit card numbers, he stole academic journals, journals that were never published for profit, these journals are still being monopolized by this one site, JSTOR. Why should knowledge cost a penny? Is it because the powers that be want us to be stupid sheep blindly being led to slaughter?


MIT is equally if not more responsible for the death of Aaron and this Coalition is collectively disgusted by your actions. How dare, an Institute such as yourselves disband such an extraordinary person? To literally stop the evolution of technology and the freedoms of information in their tracks instead of being the driving force behind them? After what you did to Aaron that is your legacy, a mere establishment University being puppets to the powers that be. With just one piece of paper, you could have ended this crusade before it began instead you consciously chose to vilify Aaron even though the total damages to MIT and JSTOR combined was only $5,000. Any and all active administration officials at MIT during the Aaron Swartz case lied to the Swartz family when they told the Swartz family personally, that they had been subpoenaed, which is why they gave Aarons personal MIT login times. Court records show MIT was subpoenaed after Aaron Swartz was arrested. MIT lied to the Swartz family and the public when they claimed they had no contact with the U.S. DA’s office yet later admitted that they asked the government for no jail time in Swartz’s case, which would mean that MIT had conversations with the prosecutor about how much time Aaron Swartz should or shouldn’t receive. That Hal Abelson’s own inquiry proves MIT lied to the public and Hal Abelson purposefully deceived the public in his inquiry. With no due respect, your investigation was not independent and heavily steered away from chastising MIT at all which is why president Rafael Reif would announce in advance that the inquiry would be made public leaving it to be forever tainted in the public eye because the thought of MIT publicly criticizing themselves is laughable. MIT failed to secure what they claim is a restricted closet, it underlines laughing-out-loud at security, to prosecute Aaron for pointing out the flaws and outright stupidity that is MIT’s network is redundantly inhumane. Hacking was born on the very network you boldly stand by, you hold hackathons, teach students how to pick locks, ordain your institution on the pursuit of furthering technology, you invite free thought and expression, your institute is sought by aspiring students who believe in these values and you shattered all of that in one heinous act, MIT should feel nothing, but shame and complicity in the death of Aaron Swartz.

To the Swartz Family

Aaron was a lot of things to many of us, but he was yours first. Everything the world thinks they may know about Aaron, you know more. All of our collective pain combined is a fraction of the pain you feel, you created a child that turned the world upside down whilst speeding up its evolution. Your son may not be here today, but what he created will always be here, the codes he wrote are used on a daily basis, he created a perpetually growing legacy and if something is growing, then it can not be dead. It is our duty and our moral imperative to finish what Aaron started, to continue to pursue the freedoms of information and protect our Internet as we know it because “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”


By @Dapeaple

We the people

Exuding free speech

Deserve nothing less than