Reddit co-Founder Aaron Swartz Indicted for Data Theft, Other Hacktivists Arrested

The co-founder of Reddit, Aaron Swartz, was charged with data-theft in Boston.  He was accused of stealing over four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR.  The case was filed by Carmen M. Ortiz, District Attorney of Massachusetts.  Swartz could face up to 35 years in jail with a $1 million fine if proven guilty.  Charges include wire fraud, computer fraud, acquiring info on a protected computer and criminal forfeiture.

“Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars,” said Ms. Ortiz in the press release.

Swartz is known for his participation in the start-up incubator Y Combinator that led to the merging with Reddit, eventually making him a co-founder of the social network.  The hacking at MIT supposedly happened while Swartz was in Harvard from September 2010 to January 2011.  His goal was to disseminate the articles he acquired by use of file-sharing sites.  His hacking was discovered when his activities impaired JSTOR’s computers.

Few details have emerged around this interesting news development, which is made all the more enlightening given the current ethos around hackers in general.  A high profile case such as Swartz has deep ripples in the tech community, especially when Swartz has been placed in a leadership position.  Reddit has enourmous appeal amongst grass roots geeks and die-hard social bookmarkers, enabling the site to maintain its reputation amidst vast swings in the social networking and bookmarking worlds.

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the homes of suspected ‘hacktivists’ in New York, New Jersey, California and Florida.  This nationwide ‘hacktivist’-hunt is in response to the Anonymous and LulzSec’s AntiSec campaign that have been wreaking havoc in government facilities.

But all these arrests and allegations could be considered a small feat when compared to the damages that these ‘hacktivists’ have already invoked.  And though they have made the arrests, I’m sure others will agree that those arrested are probably just the pawns in the grand scheme of things.  The bosses of the hack groups will probably retaliate as a and anger the government even more.