Internet activist Aaron Swartz, formerly of Reddit and Wired Digital, was indicted Tuesday on charges of data theft
. The district attorney in Boston claims that he "stole" millions of JSTOR documents while at M.I.T., crimes that could put him in jail for 35 years. Here's Nick Bilton in the New York Times
In a press release, Ms. Ortiz's office said that Mr. Swartz broke into a restricted area of M.I.T. and entered a computer wiring closet. Mr. Swartz apparently then accessed the M.I.T. computer network and stole millions of documents from JSTOR.
In a press release, Demand Progress, the political action group founded by Swartz, denies the prosecutor's claims outright: "As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many scholarly journal articles from the Web
" and compares it to "checking too many books out of the library."
JSTOR is an online archive of print journals
, containing millions of articles.
The prosecutor's language here is unequivocal: that he "broke in" to a "restricted area" to gain access to a "wiring closet" that would enable a mass data theft. The criminal complaint
[via Jason Levine and Anil Dash
] suggests most of the theft, however, was accomplished using scraper software to download en-masse stuff over the web, from a website he already had access to.
"Swartz used the Acer laptop to systematically access and rapidly download an extraordinary volume of articles from JSTOR. He used a software program to automate the downloading process so that a human being would not need to keep typing in the archive requests."
The trip to the wiring closet happened after JSTOR finally blocked that technique:
On January 4, 2011, Aaron Swartz was observed entering the restricted basement
network wiring closet to replace an external hard drive attached to his computer. On January 6, 2011, Swartz returned to the wiring closet to remove his computer equipment. This time he attempted to evade identification at the entrance to the restricted area.
As Swartz entered the wiring closet, he held his bicycle helmet like a mask to shield his face, looking through ventilation holes in the helmet. Swartz then removed his computer equipment from the closet, put it in his backpack, and left, again masking his face with the bicycle helmet before peering through a crack in the double doors and cautiously stepping out.
Needs a theme tune by Henry Mancini.
: the NYT
originally reported that Swartz was a co-founder of Reddit, referenced here in an earlier headline. I've updated this post to reflect its update: Swartz joined Reddit early but not as a founder
At The Malware Musuem you can enjoy the experience of DOS-era viruses, trojans and other digital beasties without any of the risk. Many of them manifested as wild graphical tricks and other spectacular coding feats, distracting you as they formatted hard drives or corrupted files. The Malware Museum is a collection of malware programs, usually […]
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
If you’ve been blessed enough to avoid them yourself, you’ve definitely heard the horror stories. Late night, crushing out a ton of work, writing, coding, anything, then boom – your computer crashes. The battery blows, you spill water or coffee all over the place, or it just shuts down with no explanation, and you’re screwed. […]
You travel around a lot. It might be that jet set life from New York to LA to London to Tokyo, or it might be back and forth from the coffee shop to the office, or from the kitchen to the couch. Any which way, you’re mobile and that’s the way to live. When you […]
It’s 2016 and we like our technology really small. Our phones fit in our pockets, our remotes are lighter than ever, and even our cars seem to be shrinking. So your new drone shouldn’t be an exception. This Axis VIDIUS Drone is 21% off right now and it’s so little, your biggest problem won’t be […]