April 28, 2013 by calamity3039
It was only a few months since Aaron Schwartz committed suicide, but the news media has already grown cold on his case. There has been no justice for his death. He may have taken his own life, but he wasn’t the one who made the decision to destroy his life. His tormentor is allowed to keep their high position. Carmen Ortiz will not be held responsible for her over zealous prosecution of Aaron Schwartz.
Not only is she not going to be punished for her behavior, but she is going to be allowed to continue her life as if nothing ever happened. She has already been named the head prosecutor on Dzhorkhar Tsarnaev’s trial. For anybody who ever thought it was possible for him to get a fair trial, and the United States to honor their side of the deal, you were sorely mistaken.
The Sad Tale of Aaron Schwartz
Aaron Schwartz was a brilliant computer programmer and internet activist. He was the co-creator of Reddit and a strong advocate against SOPA. He believed in civil liberties and the constitution. So it wasn’t surprising that the U.S. Government hated him. They made that abundantly clear when they went after 30 years of his life.
You see, Aaron got on wrong side of powerful people. He was an editor of Wikipedia and behind their cause. He even used the Freedom of Information of Act to uphold transparency in Army whistleblower Bradley Manning’s case. His biggest offense against the U.S. Government was setting up ways to make their own information available for cheap.
In 2008, Swartz downloaded and released about 2.7 million federal court documents stored in the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
The Huffington Post characterized his actions this way: “Swartz downloaded public court documents from the PACER system in an effort to make them available outside of the expensive service. The move drew the attention of the FBI, which ultimately decided not to press charges as the documents, were, in fact, public.
For his troubles he was arrested and prosecuted. He had violated various Terms or Agreement copyrights. Yeah, that right they went after him for copyright infringement. They sought the maximum penalties against him. He refused any plea bargains because those were also too harsh. It was clear that they wanted to make an example of him. The Federal Government went at him until he gave up.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland were the lead prosecutors, working under the supervision of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. The case was brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was passed in 1986 to enhance the government’s ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality. “If convicted on these charges,” said Ortiz, “Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.
I hope some day that Carmen Ortiz will answer for her actions. It doesn’t look like though. Aaron Schwartz was 26 years old when he committed suicide. I hope his dedication to civil liberties never goes unnoticed.