Don’t Look Now But You Too May Be a Criminal

As we posted earlier, Aaron Swartz, was cruelly hounded by Federal prosecutors and threatened with criminal imprisonment for 35 years for seeking to open up information on the Internet. As a result of the prosecution turned persecution, the young man committed suicide. Here is a letter from his partner seeking to memorialize Aaron’s death by repealing or amending the law under which he was attacked.

On January 11, 2013, facing decades in prison on trumped up charges, my partner, Aaron Swartz, made the tragic choice to take his own life. He was only 26.

Aaron’s supposed crime? He was accused of checking out too many articles (4.8 million), too fast, from an online academic library called JTSOR, to which he had authorized access. He never used or distributed the articles and later returned them. For that, he faced 35 years behind bars and endured two years of relentless persecution.

The outdated Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) made this tragedy possible by giving absurdly broad powers to corporations and prosecutors to criminalize an array of online activity. That includes breaching a website’s terms of service–that long fine print you “agree to” but never read.

All of us who knew and loved Aaron never want to see anyone suffer this kind of abuse of power again. So, we’re urgently calling on Congress to reform the CFAA. Please join us.

Tell Congress: REFORM THE COMPUTER FRAUD & ABUSE ACT TO REMOVE THE DANGEROUSLY BROAD CRIMINALIZATION OF ONLINE ACTIVITY AND PROTECT US ALL FROM THE ABUSE OF CORPORATE AND PROSECUTORIAL POWER.

Aaron was an innovator, entrepeneur, and social justice advocate who co-authored RSS 1.0 (the web’s format for sharing and distributing content) at the age of 14, co-founded the social news website Reddit, and led the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA–the internet censorship bills.

His fight to stop SOPA and PIPA started with a petition just like this one, so we know this can work. In fact, there’s already been a strong, bipartisan reaction to Aaron’s death and legislation is in the works to reform the CFAA right now. But it won’t happen without a big public push.

We can’t get Aaron back, but can you help us honor his memory by signing this petition and sharing it with everyone you know?

Yes, I can.

Thank you for listening.

–Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman

Go to the ACLU website at http://www.aclu.org/ and click on “Take Action” and look for the link to “Save the Next Aaron Swartz”

 

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