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
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey
It’s time for a power upgrade — throw out that tired-out power strip and swap in this family-size USB charger, packed with 6 high-speed ports. With a built-in control chip, Kinkoo optimizes each port to ensure the fastest charging possible for all your devices. The Kinkoo is made from high-grade and durable materials so you […]
Watching Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services can unfortunately be difficult while traveling outside the US. Rather than bypass these restrictions with the help of a complex and slow VPN, choose a faster and simpler solution with Getflix. Instead of rerouting all your Internet traffic through a different server, this handy service only routes the […]
Shake, stir, and muddle your way to delicious homemade cocktails with this must-have bar set. Expect only the finest quality tools from MakersKit — enabling you to unleash your inner mixologist.Top 12 Favorite Things of 2014, Sunset MagazineQuart-size vintage-style Mason jar shakerRetro double jigger for accurate measurementsStrainer & spouts for a mixologist-style smooth pourHardwood muddler […]