Here's The Video That Got Aaron Swartz Arrested

In 2011, a video was recorded of then 24-year-old programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz breaking into a computer closet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It showed him switching out a laptop hard drive that had collected thousands of articles from JSTOR, the online academic library.

The footage of Swartz and his rigged laptop had since become famous -- not because it's been viewed by millions online, but because U.S. prosecutors used it as evidence of computer and wire fraud against the young coder, who eventually committed suicide while under federal investigation.

The video remained out of the public eye -- until this week.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Wired's Kevin Poulsen compelled the U.S. Secret Service to release the video and other key information pertaining to Swartz's case.

Captured by a hidden camera, Swartz is seen entering an MIT wiring closet and switching out the drive. The university had placed the camera in that closet after multiple JSTOR downloads were traced there. Based on his appearance in this video, Swartz was arrested two days later.

Prosecutors had accused Swartz of creating code that downloaded thousands of documents from the paid subscription-only service in order to post them online for free, charges that had him facing up to 7 years in prison if convicted.

Supporters, many of whom used the link-sharing website Reddit that Swartz helped develop, saw the accusations and potential prison time as too severe. Swartz's father went as far to say that his son "was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles" at a funeral service.

Quinn Norton, Freelance Journalist And Swartz's Close Friend

Remembering Aaron Swartz

Popular in the Community