Big Ugly Government: More On Aaron Swartz Case And Why Obama Is George Bush (And Then Some) With A Tan
For those of you Obama voters who were behind him because you believed he was a shining light of civil liberties (unlike George Bush), have you admitted that your faith in him was misplaced? That he's just another politician, with all the grasping, cronyism, and selling out that comes with that?
Jonathan Turley blogs about Aaron Swartz and what he calls the Obama Admin's "war on public access to information":
In 2008, he took on PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, for its charging of 10 cents a page for documents. I agreed with Swartz about this charge as being a barrier to public access to our courts and important cases. He argued correctly that there should be free access. He co-founded Demand Progress to seek online access and fought for social reforms. The federal government, at the behest of industry groups, shutdown his free library program.
In 2011, Swartz took on JSTOR, the academic repository of papers and research. It is a subscription based service. He broke into the computer system at MIT through a utility closet using a laptop and a false identity. He downloaded 4.8 million documents. Notably, however, MIT chose not to pursue charges -- to its credit. For many years, academics argued that such material should be free to the public as a matter of principle. Two days before Swartz's death, MIT releases all documents publicly free of charge.
However, despite MIT's position that it did not want to bring charges, Carmen M. Ortiz saw her chance. Ortiz is the United States Attorney for Massachusetts and a graduate of our law school who spoke recently at our commencement. Industry groups and lobbyists have long gotten what they wanted from Obama on criminalizing trademark and copyright violations. States have shown the same capture by industry groups. Swartz was a prime target as an advocate of public access and the Obama Administration threw everything that they had at him.
There is no question that Swartz crossed the line and broke into the system. However, given MIT's position against charging Swartz, it would seem a case for prosecutorial discretion or a deal with Swartz. After all, students commit such acts regularly (though certainly not to the size of this download) without charges. Ortiz, however, sought decades in jail and ruinous fines to the great pleasure of the copyright hawks that run throughout the Administration. To the Administration, Swartz was just another felon who needed to be jailed for decades for his crime.