“The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law,” observed the late Howard Zinn. “It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.”
Earlier this month, cyber activist and Internet access advocate Aaron Swartz committed suicide. Swartz, one of the founders of the organization Creative Commons, as well as the web protocol Real Simple Syndication (RSS), faced up to 50 years of jail time in addition to fines totaling millions of dollars for allegedly illegally downloading millions of articles from JSTOR, the academic journal reference database subscribed to by most major American universities. At the time of his death, Swartz was 26 years old.
The charges were not brought by JSTOR, however, nor by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), whose computers Swartz used for his alleged activity, but rather by the United States government. “Stealing is stealing,” U.S. Attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz commented on the case, “whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”
But others aren’t as sure as Ortiz, and claim that, regardless of any debatable issues pertaining to political activism versus legal misconduct, the case against Swartz is a blatant example of a beefed-up prosecution overplaying a crime.
Read on at The Valley Advocate …