The Department of Justice has charged Aaron Schwartz with 13 felonies for violating the terms of service TOS of a web site:
Federal prosectors added nine new felony counts against well-known coder and activist Aaron Swartz, who was charged last year for allegedly breaching hacking laws by downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database via an open connection at MIT.
Swartz, the 25-year-old executive director of Demand Progress, has a history of downloading massive data sets, both to use in research and to release public domain documents from behind paywalls. He surrendered in July 2011, remains free on bond and faces dozens of years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.
Like last year’s original grand jury indictment on four felony counts, (.pdf) the superseding indictment (.pdf) unveiled Thursday accuses Swartz of evading MIT’s attempts to kick his laptop off the network while downloading millions of documents from JSTOR, a not-for-profit company that provides searchable, digitized copies of academic journals that are normally inaccessible to the public.
In essence, many of the charges stem from Swartz allegedly breaching the terms of service agreement for those using the research service.
“JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time,” according to the latest indictment. “Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers. JSTOR also uses computerized measures to prevent users from downloading an unauthorized number of articles using automated techniques.”
It gets better.
The DoJ lost big in the 9th circuit court, which said that a violation of the TOS was a matter for civil court, but Obama’s DiJ decided not to appeal, so that they could continue to use their bogus vendettas in other jurisdictions.
Prosecutors have an obligation to represent the people.
This obligation goes beyond fishing for a suitably technically illiterate jury and using multiple indictments and the threat of decades in jail to extract a plea bargain.
This is a despicable case of prosecutorial overreach.
They are saying that, for example, lying about my appearance on a dating site would be a felony.
Prosecutors want to make their job easier, but their method, creating a world where everyone can be thrown in jail for a felony, because there is some law that they are in violation of, is repellant.
It is the hallmark of a police state.