Tim Wu: what if we'd treated Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak the way we treated Aaron Swartz?

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14 Responses to “Tim Wu: what if we'd treated Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak the way we treated Aaron Swartz?”

  1. Also of interest: what if Wozniak had taken the JSTOR documents, or at least accepted credit for taking them. With a good lawyer on his side, would the prosecution have gone anywhere at all?

  2. Nihilist says:

    anyone who knows that the two steves start, was with phone hacking. they created small blue boxs that on the old att phones emitted a tone that would hook you up to free long distance calls. back when they were expensive. they took that money and built the apple I in steves jobs garage. if this was today, the feds would have put the two steves away for ten years, and they would be felons for the rest of their lives. the feds did kill this kid, and its status quo at the fed…..

  3. Didn’t we see this one coming?  Thomas Dolan, the husband of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, had been using a Twitter account to post critically about Aaron and the Swartz family. The Twitter account has since been deleted.

  4. Zach Cone says:

    Also not so different than what Mark Zuckerberg did. Before creating Facebook he wrote scripts to scrape all the photos off the different dorm’s servers. 

    “However, the website was shut down by Harvard executives a few days after it opened. Mark Zuckerberg faced charges of violating copyrights, breach of security, and violating individual privacy for stealing the student pictures that he used to populate the website. He later faced expulsion from Harvard University for his actions. However, all the charges were eventually dropped” –Wikipedia

  5. 10xor01 says:

    The worm unleashed by Robert Morris in ’88 is probably a better comparison.  Morris was tried and convicted after releasing a worm that took over several thousand unix boxes.  According to wikipedia, he served three years probation, did some community service, and paid a fine of around $10k.

    My guess is that Aaron Swartz would have gladly taken a similar deal, if one were offered.  But unlike Morris, Swartz’s dad wasn’t a big shot at the NSA.

    • Carl Malamud says:

      That’s not a very fair comment. This isn’t about Robert’s dad or Aaron’s dad having clout. It’s about prosecutors and investigators going way beyond their brief. It’s about rule by the arbitrary whims of men and women instead of rule by law and justice.

      It also isn’t about having a person like Woz or somebody else prominent involved. When they came after us for the PACER data, we had all sorts of big guns on our side, including people in Justice and federal judges. But they still tried their hardest to turn an audit of privacy violations in U.S. district courts based on public domain data into a criminal affair.

  6. timquinn says:

    Let’s face it. There are elements even now who wish they never were able to do what they did. The information revolution has been a boon for democracy and a real problem for the dark forces of all kinds. The future will hold this generation up as the real revolution. The Steve’s got away with it because they were still too low profile. Simple luck (mixed with a lot of preparation, of course.)

  7. monopole says:

    No need to speculate just consider the impact of federal persecution, Just look at John Draper a contemporary genius in the Phreaking Scene:
    http://www.flyingsnail.com/Scrapbook/John_Draper.html

    My question is how would have Jobs and Woz and Apple have fared at the hands of modern day Apple’s Legal department ? 

  8. niktemadur says:

    the point-scoring culture of America’s prosecutors

    Bingo.  Any culture where technocrats wield too much power, will stagnate.

  9. Ryan Lenethen says:

    Kevin Mitnick served 5 years in prison after finally making a deal with Feds.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick

    “overzealous prosecution of Mitnick by the government” Sound similar?

  10. fruityboots says:

    aaron was part of a new breed and a threat to the status quo, i mourn him.

  11. Brad Bell says:

    The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime,” continues to be the key document:
    http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/
    There was no crime. The charges were entirely bullshit, considering Aaron’s actions are said to amount to little more than hogging library resources. (In contrast, the Steve’s were committing crimes.)

    Something also has to be said for our tendency to think there must be *something* substantial behind criminal charges. It is a lazy habit if we intend to presume people innocent until proven guilty. It also results in people making excuses for Aaron’s alleged risk and recklessness. “Sure he broke some laws, but…” For the record, there is zero evidence of any laws being broken. That’s what’s wrong: 35 years and $1m loss are hung over a man for being inconsiderate in the library. 

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