Intellectual Property

Federal Prosecutors Tormented Aaron Swartz

They threatened to ruin his life for personal gain

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"The idea that an agent of the federal government would be able to pick out a person and threaten to ruin their life is not the kind of thing that we hope for in a justice system," says Parker Higgins, an internet activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Higgins was a friend and associate of the late Aaron Swartz (1986-2013), the computer programmer, hacker, and activist who committed suicide last week. Swartz helped create the web syndication process RSS, was important in the founding of the popular social media site Reddit, and instrumental in organizing the successful campaign against the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA). He was facing up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for downloading more than 4 million academic articles from the database JSTOR.