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Can We Get Congress to Investigate Aaron Swartz's Prosecution?
21 points by pemulis on Jan 14, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
I just sent an e-mail to Jared Polis, the Representative for Colorado's 2nd District, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Polis a former tech entrepreneur and co-founder of TechStars. If anyone is likely to get the ball rolling on this, I think it would be him.

The circumstances that made this prosecution possible, especially our antiquated and disproportionate computer crime laws, need to be addressed at the legislative level. If anyone else is planning to write to their representative and wants to see what I sent to Rep. Polis, I can post the text here.

Please do. I may try.

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Representative Polis,

Two days ago, as I'm sure you are aware, brilliant programmer, writer, and activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide. At the time of his death, he was being threatened with a 35-year federal prison sentence and millions of dollars in fines for allegedly downloading academic articles with the plan to distribute them freely to scholars everywhere.

Even though the alleged victim, JSTOR, did not wish to press any charges, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann pressed forward aggressively, treating Mr. Swartz the same as a bank robber, phishing artist, or hacker of military secrets. Mr. Swartz's family believes that this overzealous and unreasonable prosecution contributed to his suicide.

Rep. Polis, as an Internet entrepreneur and investor, you understand the issues at hand better than most. And as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, you are well positioned to investigate the circumstances of this prosecution, and revisit the decades-old laws that made it possible.

I never knew Aaron Swartz, but like many others, I was a great admirer of his work and felt his loss deeply. I beg you to look into this case.

Thank you,

[my name]

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