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Co-founder of Reddit charged with stealing data from MIT

One of the co-founders of the popular web site Reddit has been charged with stealing millions of documents from computer archives at MIT and at JSTOR. The Boston Globe web site reports that 24 year old, Aaron Swartz, was charged today by Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. The charges include "wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer." Swartz turned himself in to authorities and is now currently out on $100,000 bail.

Swartz is accused of breaking into a computer wiring closet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then allegedly accessed MIT's computer network via a connection in the wiring closet. He then allegedly stole millions of documents from the JSTOR scientific and academic archive. The US Attorney accuses Swartz of trying to distribute those documents to a number of file sharing services. In a statement Ortiz said, "Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars."

In addition to being one of the co-founders of the Reddit user generated news web site, Swartz is also the founder of Demand Progress, a political action organization. In a statement, Demand Progress claims that Swartz had made some kind of settlement deal with MIT before the US Attorney's office came in to charge Swartz. Demand Progress' executive director David Segal stated, "It’s even more strange because the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute." If convicted of the charges, Swartz could face up to 35 years in prison.

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