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  1. #1
    Senior Coder DanInMa's Avatar
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    20 something researcher being charged for downloading too many journal articles

    Hey folks.

    This is not spam. This guy is being charged with federal charges for "downloading too many jurnal articles" which somehow allows them to charge him with "computer hacking". It just doesn't sound right. He is also a major contributor to a site that protests Internet restriction laws.

    Please take a look. This guy should not be in Federal pound me in the *** prison.

    http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/support_aaron/

    Help Aaron.

  • #2
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    Hey DanInMa,

    You're right, this doesn't sound right indeed. Because the phrase "downloading too many journal articles from the Web", means absolutely nothing, and I did not see any more in-depth details about this in the article (maybe someone can point something out...I am a little busy so maybe I missed something). Sorry, but all I saw was some pile of crap with some links to support/promote his cause.

    Just how much data did he download? What was the nature by which he downloaded it all (manual or some automated process)? What was the content of the articles? Were they really free and open to public? Or perhaps if they weren't, was this some kind of a rebellious stand against the source to protest that they should be free? Where did he download it from, was it JSTOR (if so, it's strange enough that this is vaguely mentioned)? Exactly what crime is he being charged with (link please)? These are some of the most obvious questions. Only after they're answered can we all make a better judgement as to who this Aaron fellow really is.

    Regards,
    Mike

  • #3
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    I'm with Mike O... without concrete information about what the suspect did or did not do and why it was deemed illegal (wrongly so or not), I'm not going to believe anything.

    I suspect most of the people who have signed or will sign that petition don't know these kinds of details either.

  • #4
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    According to wikipedia (believe this at your own risk):

    On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Swartz was charged by U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer, in relation to downloading roughly 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR.[5] According to the indictment against him, Swartz had surreptitiously attached a laptop to MIT's computer network, which allowed him to "rapidly download an extraordinary volume of articles from JSTOR". Prosecutors in the case claim Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.

  • #5
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    You assume there's more to this story than is being reported. I guess his "intention" is what got him in trouble. Interesting.

  • #6
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    No, his (alleged) actions got him into trouble. And of course there's more to the story than what is being reported. There always is.

  • #7
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    hmmm interesting relationship "He is also a major contributor to a site that protests Internet restriction laws." who said gov. is not vendictive

  • #8
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    Is it just me, or does the internet seem like a legal grey area? They try to shut down a P2P network - the network moves to another country (demonoid being a popular example). And now this.

    Definitely not a lot of information about this, and I'd be interested to see where that information on wikipedia came from. The phrase 'researcher being charged for downloading too many journal articles' sounds like an ambigious, tabloid-newspaper style 'f*ck the government' statement. At the end of the day, if he did download 4 million articles, that is too many and could easily be argued he had intention to supply...knowledge haha. It's a lot more than he would probably ever need, and might cover a vast range of subjects etc. so there could be quite a valid reason for him being in jail.

    That's just my take on things. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna condem the guy until I see more information.

  • #9
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    It's pretty hard to prove intent if he didn't actually post the data/files on P2P sites or at least make an attempt or somehow articulate an intent. I wonder what the gov's approach may be on that element.

    I've periodically been reminded of the vindictive element when visiting with the TSA staff at airports. I've noted that they, like others with limited vision who are invested with a certain limited amount of authority, have a tendency to like to push that into people's faces if their (sometimes ridiculous) instructions are not complied with immediately and precisely. Hhhmmmm....

  • #10
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    The problem arose when he was rigging machines to hit against the database with such frequency that he was crashing the servers. And he kept doing it over and over. And he was masking his identity as he did so. So, it starts to look more and more like a denial of service attack, which governments have been writing laws to handle aggressively, since that kind of thing can bring entire systems down, achieving the same thing as a destructive virus.

    Apparently the last straw was when he broke into the MIT data center and hacked into a server directly to continue his alleged attacks.

    I think it's a bit simplistic to try to paint this guy as a freedom fighter just trying to "liberate" journals. It's more about what he was doing to the infrastructure of the system where the journals are stored.

  • #11
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    Ahem! Thank you, Fumigator, for fleshing out the story a bit!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fumigator View Post
    The problem arose when he was rigging machines to hit against the database with such frequency that he was crashing the servers. And he kept doing it over and over. And he was masking his identity as he did so. So, it starts to look more and more like a denial of service attack, which governments have been writing laws to handle aggressively, since that kind of thing can bring entire systems down, achieving the same thing as a destructive virus.

    Apparently the last straw was when he broke into the MIT data center and hacked into a server directly to continue his alleged attacks.

    I think it's a bit simplistic to try to paint this guy as a freedom fighter just trying to "liberate" journals. It's more about what he was doing to the infrastructure of the system where the journals are stored.


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