Some may say "good riddance", but I disagree. I think the charges were way out of proportion. Mr. Swartz would have been better off committing manslaughter, which has a lesser maximum sentence.
As I understand, the "hacking" consisted of automatic discovery of links and downloading them, which would have been legal if done manually with a browser. No systems were breached.
Accepting the plea bargain would have left Mr. Swartz a convicted felon, which pretty much is guaranteed to ruin anyone's future.
He hid a notebook in a janitor's closet, used a guest account, and then set the notebook to get around the limitations imposed for guest users. He didn't access it as an authorized user, he purposely attempted to get around the limits imposed by the university.
You have people crying about "open access" to the documents stored on university systems, yet how does the university pay for this stuff? Sure, it's open for students who are currently enrolled, but why should EVERYONE be allowed free and unfettered access? Universities are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the bills and students fly into a rage whenever there's talk of raising tuition rates. So how DOES the institution pay for that?
Well the point is that a lot of that research was supported by public funds and already under public domain.
If you ask me, we could have an entirely free education system and a way more fair publishing system funded by just the benefits of bringing knowledge to a wider public. Check how open source created value and how education works in another countries.
As I said before, nobody says that Swartzs acts were all fine. Probably we dont want people breaking into MIT just for fun (again there are attenuations in this particular case, network was open, a homeless was living in the laptop's room even, documents could be accessed anyway, etc. Check the defense arguments for a longer list.)
Sorry last night I was a bit phony. The plea deal issue is part of what is being put under question. The threat of a huge maximum penalty can be used to obtain a conviction. This work the same in my country so we are allowed to discuss this in general.
Looks like a lot of things will change after this. A reform of the law is being propposed so a violation of TOS wouldnt constitute a felony anymore: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/16njr9/im_rep_zoe_lofgren_im_introducing_aarons_law_to/
About your network being attacked,nobody says that cracking should be legal. Do you have any evidence that your network is being attacked by activists? There are a lot of pranks also.
Some words from an expert from the defense: http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/