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Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-what-sticks dept.
Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"
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Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack

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  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fish waffle (179067) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:20PM (#41381619)

    "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number.

    Right, and...? Is a MAC address some sort of protected id? Everyone knows that MAC filtering is ineffective, and MAC altering is enabled by hardware.

    Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network.

    Uh oh, I'm in trouble.

    Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents.

    Again, so what? Is it some requirement that we display ourselves clearly to all security cameras?

    Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"

    Well, that is scary. Prosecute away then.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:26PM (#41381665) Journal

    Federal prosecutors are some sick bastards. The worst of the worst. This is clearly intended to dissuade Swartz from exercising his constiutional right to a trial. Throw every charge at him in order to scare him into accepting a plea bargain. This is why 97% of federal cases end in plea bargains. Not because prosecutors are right 97% of the time, but because they are the biggest bullies in the country.

    We'd all be safer if those who have charged Swartz were behind bars themselves.

  • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:32PM (#41381719) Homepage

    Its a win for the prosecutor's record and saves the time of a jury trial. If Everyone charged with a crime opted for a jury the courts would be back logged for decades.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:44PM (#41381829)
    Such things can be used as evidence that not only did Swatz break the law, but that he did so intentionally. Also the first two bits, the changing of the MAC address and providing a false email address might become supporting evidence for the argument asserting wire fraud.

    Propaganda-wise, this is a easy demonstration that he was acting pretty shifty. That might get the prosecutor some mileage in the courtroom.
  • Robin Hood (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:46PM (#41381845)

    Who puts this much effort into something? Someone who believes it is right. Someone who is tired of seeing 6 billion people forbidden any access at any price to academic papers in electronic form, just because they are not members of a privileged guild.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381857) Journal

    Mod me down if you want, but that doesn't change the fact that Swartz would have been better off if the Mafia had broken both his kneecaps, or left him dead in a ditch, rather than facing decades in federal PMITA prison where he will emerge an old, broken man, if at all. Is this really what you call justice?

  • by Gim Tom (716904) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381859)
    Isn't it about time for Juries to use their power of Jury Nullification? Jury members can vote their conscience no matter what the law, the prosecutor or even the Judge says. Unfortunately most are told otherwise.
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381869)
    He lied in order to access a system he might not have been able to access if he didn't lie. That's the crime. They are making lying illegal, so long as the lying is against people with sufficient money to make an issue of it.
  • Re:Curious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@NosPAM.gamerslastwill.com> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:56PM (#41381929) Homepage Journal

    Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to allow JSTOR and others to prevent worldwide dissemination of academic knowledge through a paywall?

    Academic knowledge should belong to the world. Hoarding it for the elites is bad for humanity.

  • by zerro (1820876) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:07PM (#41382015)
    Can be hard to do when Judge and DA are golfing buddies. Just sayin'
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:20PM (#41382107) Journal

    We wince when we learn of what Russia is doing to the girl punk band Pussy Riot

    They way Russia heaping charges after ridiculous charges on those 3 girls causes many of us boiling mad, and our main stream media condemn what Russia is doing ... on the other hand ...

    When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy - where are the main stream media ?

    The silent treatment from New York Time or Washington Post or Newsweek or Times Magazine is especially deafening.

    The fate of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot is ruined by a dictatorship.

    The fate of a guy in US is equally ruined - but by a so-called "democratically elected government".

    Why the double standards?

    Isn't the personal liberty of a guy in USA as important as the liberty of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot?

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:35PM (#41382205)

    When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy

    Anyone can heap charge after ridiculous charge on someone. The question is what the courts will have to say about it, and thats where the difference between the US and Russia is.

    Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

  • Re:Curious. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:46PM (#41382279)

    Im much more concerned with a generation that seems to favor some kind of anarchy where everyone decides for themselves which of the laws are worth following

    Who thinks that? I don't see people breaking sensible laws, regardless of their age...

    Oh, wait, you were referring to laws that are not sensible. Well what did you expect?

  • Re:Curious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:04PM (#41382399)

    What did you expect? You raised us. We watched you speed, fail to yield. We watched you vote for the largest prison population and percentage in the world.

    We watched you vote for suffering -- for berlin, for tiannamen and tibet. We watched you pay for a military capable of fighting wars on two fronts, and when the economy went bad, we watched you pay for the wars they were ready for.

    And we paid for them and will continue to pay.

    I watched your generation ruin and sell out the internet before I could even lawfully purchase access to it -- and when I could, I had to sign a contract to do so -- even at a university.

    I watched you sell out my education -- giving me 30 year old textbooks, making me nearly enslave myself at a local university to obtain a piece of paper proving I was willing to indenture myself for four years so that an employer might hope to shackle me down even harder to student loans.

    Oh, I had scholarships, funds, state subsidized loans... they came in exchange for not entering the job market for years as a way to keep unemployment down until your generation could finish killing off all semblance of pensions, unions, and suck social security so hard we'll have to deal with historically high inflation rates to pay for it.

    But you keep whining about anarchy because people decide laws aren't worth following.

    Your law failed.

    It isn't anarchy to reject institutionalized serfdom. I don't care if I don't have to bake my bread in your oven and grind my grain on your mill anymore -- you've thoroughly enslaved the world to your dollar, your taxes, and the 'civilization' you've built such that it isn't even economically viable to survive without partaking of the evils you've voted in.

    But I guess I'm free to move to Somalia if I don't like law right? Even if you helped orchestrate the overthrow of their government in the 70's and 90's?

  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:59PM (#41382727) Journal

    I don't know where you've been for the last 30 years but folks with social and political axes to grind (on both sides of the aisle) have been stuffing the federal courts like they're going out of style. As the legislature is happily scratching out the "Bill of Rights", the Supreme Court is glad-handing and voting in favor of the very idio... excuse me, social and financial interests who are paying for the surgical elimination of Our Nation's Freedoms as we know them.

    My biggest concern is that this poor clown is caught in a device designed to keep us all under strict control, and he's just a guinea pig for the new IP hamburger making machine. If they can pulverize him with trumped up charges for the kind of stupid college pranks that kids at Caltech have been doing for decades, its fair warning that we should all be very wary of the growing fact that our government is now precisely and almost perfectly in the hip pocket of lesser minds and souls.

    This isn't to say, the young man didn't do something wrong, or that he shouldn't make proper restitution for social impropriety, it is to say, swatting flies with thermonuclear devices seems both extravagant and vindictive. Let the punishment fit the crime. That is, unless this is a larger message, in which case, we get you loud and clear.

  • Re:Curious. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @04:49AM (#41384691)

    Wow, did you ever miss AC's point.

    >If you want to take a risk on huge debt for that law degree, thats your choice

    Basic concept can be illustrated for lunkheads like yourself with musical chairs: there's only so many chairs. Your reasoning is the same as those who blame laziness and poor choices when people can't find a job during bad economic times. Hint: there's only so many jobs to go around. Your good fortune in making a lucky choice and taking a free ride, which is essentially what you're gloating about, means that someone else doesn't get to. Ya get that? Musical chairs... there's less opportunities and lower rewards now. The rewards have been gobbled up by the previous generation, and it's you that will pay for them.
    But of course you don't get, you aren't bright enough to look beyond your own anecdotal evidence and good fortune. Idiot.

    >Or you could vote, like a responsible member of society.

    Yup, because validating a broken, corrupt system by playing in the boomer's election games is a brilliant strategy. Hint: those that fucked things up have the demographics, and are trying to ensure they milk every last cent out of the system before it implodes in YOUR generations face.
    Or you could look beyond your own fucking nose and realize that the dream is gone and what's left is a lot of hardship that's only going to get worse with no real hope of it getting better with our current approach.

    I've got 20 years on you. I realize that people your age are rather self-centred and aren't really capable of seeing things beyond their own nose, but you really are a special kind of idiot.

  • Re:Curious. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Raenex (947668) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @05:09AM (#41384777)

    We watched you vote for suffering -- for berlin, for tiannamen and tibet.

    Not even sure what this means. Could you explain precisely what was voted for and what suffering occured as a result of those votes?

    I watched you sell out my education -- giving me 30 year old textbooks

    Take some personal responsibility and go to a library if you think your textbooks aren't adequate. Education is generally a local matter, anyways. Some kids have newer books, some older.

    I watched your generation ruin and sell out the internet before I could even lawfully purchase access to it

    The Internet is awesome. It's actually way better than it was in the early days because there's more stuff and more bandwidth.

    Oh, I had scholarships, funds, state subsidized loans... they came in exchange for not entering the job market for years

    You weren't forced to take them. You even got to goof off in college on somebody else's dime. Boo hoo.

    finish killing off all semblance of pensions, unions, and suck social security so hard we'll have to deal with historically high inflation rates to pay for it.

    Pensions and unions still exist. They don't always win, but they don't always lose, either, and they've been the cause of problems too. Social security was always a money-losing pyramid scheme. It's just that now that the chickens are coming home to roost. At the end of the day the question is what do you want to do about all the old people.

    It isn't anarchy to reject institutionalized serfdom.

    It's called society, and any society will define roles and have imperfections.

    But I guess I'm free to move to Somalia if I don't like law right?

    You could move to all kinds of places, including striking out on your own in the wilderness, but it's obvious you'd rather just complain that the world around you isn't Utopia and take no responsibility for it.

  • Re:Curious. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @05:59AM (#41384977)

    > More than 90% of the world would give anything to live in a country where there is some semblance of the stability, freedom, and protections of law that we enjoy here.

    You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

    > Or you could vote, like a responsible member of society.

    Voting doesn't really change anything in a two-party system.

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