How the FBI tracked Internet activist Aaron Swartz

Posted by Trent Nouveau

A blogger has managed to obtain and publish once-classified FBI files that describe how the federal agency tracked and collected information about Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Firedoglake blogger Daniel Wright was handed 21 of 23 declassified documents, with the other two pages of documents withheld over freedom of information subsections concerning privacy, "sources and methods," whicht can "put someone's life in danger."

However, we do know that the FBI had collected his personal information and, as the Guardian confirms, was surveilling an Illinois address where he had his IP address registered.

"Washington Field Office requests that the North RA attempt to locate Aaron Swartz, his vehicles, drivers license information and picture, and others," reads one document.

"Since Swartz is the potential subject of an ongoing investigation, it is requested that Swartz not be approached by agents."

In addition, the FBI also collected and sifted through Swartz's social networking profiles, including Facebook and LinkedIn, while compiling newspaper articles about his various activities.

As TG Daily previously reported, Swartz was a young tech wizard who helped create RSS when he was just 14 years old, and was also the co-founder of Reddit. Swartz was ultimately accused of illegally accessing JSTOR, an MIT scientific / literary service that was available only by subscription.

For downloading 4.8 million articles, which was practically the whole JSTOR library, Swartz was brought up on charges of wire and computer fraud and faced 35 years in prison and a million dollars in fines.

Swartz was found dead in his Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment where he had hanged himself in January 2013.