Aaron Swartz will be “posthumously honored for crusading for open access rights to documents on the Internet.”
Aaron Swartz has been named the recepient of the 2013 James Madison Award. The award, which is granted by the American Library Association, recognizes “individuals who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know national information.” According to CNET, Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic congresswoman who represents Silicon Valley, in California, will present Swartz’s family with the award on Friday at Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
Representative Lofgren was the recepient of the 2012 James Madison Award, which she was granted for “her efforts to ensure public access to government information.” Lofgren has also introduced legislation in Congress to “reform computer fraud laws,” that were used to indict Swartz on 13 felony charges of document theft. The bill, which she has named “Aaron’s Law,” focuses on changing the “1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute to exclude terms of service violations.”
Swartz was being charged with stealing over 4 million documents from MIT and Jstor. He was facing more than 50 years in prison and up to $4 million in fines if found guilty. Although he admittedly struggled with depression for a number of years before his suicide, his family has called his death “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.” Many of Swartz supporters, and critics of the case against him have argued that the federal government was “unfairly trying to make an example out of the 26-year-old Internet activist.”
The charges against Swartz were dismissed after his death.