Feeds

Swartz suicide won't change computer crime policy, says prosecutor

Questions grow over second hacker suicide

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The aggressive prosecution of computer crimes won't be changed in light of the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, a spokeswoman for Boston US Attorney Carmen Ortiz has said.

"Absolutely not," Ortiz told the Boston Herald. "We thought the case was reasonably handled and we would not have done things differently. We're going to continue doing the work of the office and of following our mission."

Swartz, who co-created RSS 1.0, Creative Commons, Reddit, and the Demand Progress internet action group, was facing 50 years in a federal prison and over a million dollars in fines for downloading 4.8 million articles from the JSTOR archive of academic papers.

Both JSTOR and MIT, whose network was allegedly used in the download, declined to press charges after the material was returned, but Ortiz and fellow prosecutor Stephen Heymann initially charged Swartz with five counts of computer and wire fraud, then increased the list to 15 in all before offering a plea bargain deal of six months imprisonment.

Swartz was found hanging in his Brooklyn apartment on January 12 by his girlfriend. His family has said that the pressure brought on him personally and the financial cost of defending himself were primary factors in his suicide.

"I am saddened that Ms. Ortiz isn't taking this moment to reflect on the role of proportionality and judgment in the pursuit of justice," said Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. "Ms. Ortiz's office pursued a legal strategy of intimidation where they threatened Aaron with decades of time in prison for an alleged crime with no victims. That's not justice. That's bullying."

Swartz is the second suicide linked to Boston computer crime investigations. Jonathan James, who gained notoriety in January 2000 as a teenager who cracked Department of Defense and NASA systems, shot himself in the head in 2008 after being named as a suspect in Ortiz's biggest computer crime case, the TJX hacking scam.

Over 94 million accounts at retailer TJX were compromised in an attack that was at that time the most extensive yet seen, and James was named as a conspirator. While he denied involvement in the crime, James said he had no confidence in the legal system and shot himself before the case came to court. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.