July 22, 2011
Oh, the irony of it all. Last week a 24-year-old researcher for Harvard University’s Center for Ethics broke into a locked room at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and stole almost 5 million documents. Do you think he was doing ethical research?
Aaron Swartz hid his Acer laptop and a battery of external hard drives under a box in the locked wiring closet so they wouldn't be noticed by anyone who entered the enclosure. He then periodically swapped out the drives, taking pains to mask his face with a bicycle helmet to evade identification.
Of the 4.8 million documents allegedly downloaded, about 1.7 million of them were made available for purchase by independent publishers. Prosecutors said Swartz planned to dump the huge stash on one or more file-sharing sites.
Not only was he a researcher in the field of ethics, but Swartz founded a nonprofit political action group called Demand Progress. “This makes no sense,” the group's executive director, David Segal, said. “It’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”
Hmm, so why all the secrecy? Why beak into a locked room you are not allowed into? Would it be OK to break into the library and take a huge pile of books without checking them out?
For crying out loud, how can organizations like this be allowed to exist? Theft is theft. You demand progress, try obeying the law.