United States persecution of open access activist

This video from the USA is called Aaron Swartz Arrested: The Open Access Debate.

By Patrick Zimmerman in the USA:

US government targets open access activist

5 August 2011

The prosecution of open access activist Aaron Swartz for downloading articles from a database of academic journals is part of a campaign by the US government to place increasing restrictions and controls on internet activity.

Aaron Swartz, a researcher at Harvard, was indicted by federal authorities on July 19 for allegedly using a Massachusetts Institute of Technology networking closet to access JSTOR and download 4.8 million articles. Swartz has pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on $100,000 bond.

After apprehension, JSTOR sought to immediately recover the documents. After receiving the hard drives containing the documents along with a promise from Swartz that they had not and would not be shared, JSTOR decided not to press charges.

The Department of Justice however, has decided to pursue criminal charges against Swartz, charging him with computer fraud, wire fraud, and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years in prison.

Swartz is also being prosecuted by the District Attorney of Middlesex, where M.I.T is located, for breaking and entering and for breaking into a depository. It is not yet clear whether the networking closet was locked and if there were signs indicating that it was for authorized personal only. MIT spokesman Nate Nickerson declined to comment on the matter according to Wired website. According to the technology site techeye.net, however, “The room was open 24 hours a day to students and guests, and allows students and guests to use the service and its network for free. In short, Swartz did not break or enter anything.”

Swartz, known for his involvement in the early development of the popular news aggregation site, Reddit, is an activist for open access to data and civil liberties. In 2008 he released his “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto” in which he stated, “We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks.”

In the statement announcing the charges, Carmen M. Ortiz, a United States attorney, said, “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”

Many have spoken out in support of Swartz, including David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, an advocacy organization Swartz founded. Segal says the persecution makes no sense, comparing it to “trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”

Others, such as online activist Gregory Maxwell, have shown support for Swartz’s actions as well.

A Nation of “Suspects”. Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts: “The recent dramatic expansion of intelligence collection at the federal, state and local level raises profound civil liberties concerns regarding freedoms and protections we have long taken for granted. If people generally appear unaware of ‘change in the air,’ a large part of the reason is the unparalleled resort to secrecy used by the government to keep its actions from public scrutiny. According to the new American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report, ‘Drastic Measures Required,’ under President Obama (who had vowed to create ‘an unprecedented level of openness in Government’ when he first took office), there were no fewer than 76,795,945 decisions made to classify information in 2010 – eight times the number made in 2001”: here.

5 thoughts on “United States persecution of open access activist

  1. On April 26, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed CISPA – the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act – by a vote of 248-168. CISPA now goes to the Senate.

    CISPA gives the government, including military spy agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), virtually unlimited powers to capture our personal information — medical records, private emails, financial information — all without a warrant or proper oversight.

    Tell Your Senators: Stop CISPA

    Civil liberties groups and progressives unanimously opposed the bill, as did Ron Paul. President Obama warned the House that he will veto the bill because it does not protect our privacy, but they ignored his warnings.

    Tell your Senators to protect your privacy from Big Brother and oppose CISPA.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik


  2. Pingback: Royal Society archives online | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: US cartoonist persecuted for police jokes | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz hounded to death | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz, funeral report | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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