Hacking defendant’s suicide spurs debate over prosecutorial overreach
By Mike Scarcella Contact All Articles
The National Law Journal
January 14, 2013

When the leader of a computer crime ring was sentenced in Boston to 20 years in prison for his role in one of the country’s largest-ever hacking cases in 2010, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz vowed publicly to “use all available resources” to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals no matter where in the world the crime is committed.

Just months later, federal prosecutors under Ortiz’s leadership didn’t have to look far to build the controversial hacking case against entrepreneur and political activist Aaron Swartz, who was charged in 2011 in Boston federal district court with the unauthorized use of a university’s networks to download millions of articles from the online archive of scholarly literature at the nonprofit JSTOR.

“Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars,” Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts since 2009, declared when she announced the charges against Swartz, a prominent figure in the advocacy for a free, open Internet. “It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”

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