Prosecutors say Swartz broke into a utility closet at MIT to surreptitiously connect his computer to the university's network. Swartz hid his face behind a bicycle helmet whenever he accessed the closet, and used automated scripts to download more documents that he was allowed to, the court papers say.
In addition, Swartz repeatedly took steps to thwart JSTOR's attempts to block his downloads, the papers say.
Swartz contended that he took the documents to make them freely available to everyone online via file-sharing sites.
Countless supporters argue that while Swartz' actions may have been misguided, they did not merit the charges leveled against him by prosecutors. His backers say the charges filed by prosecutors, and potential jail time Swartz faced if found guilty, were onerous for what they call a minor infraction.
Swartz's death has galvanized calls for a review of how prosecutors interpret the CFAA law.
Several legal experts have said that overzealous prosecutors misuse the law to prosecute individuals for violating relatively minor crimes, such as ignoring a website user agreements or terms of service agreements.
Some experts note that the CFAA's references to "unauthorized access" and "exceeding authorized access" apply specifically to malicious hacking incidents and not to situations where someone with legitimate access to a system might misuse that access to misappropriate data.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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