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This question came to mind after reading about the suicide of Aaron Shwartz, the hacker who infringed the intellectual property rights of the individuals who own JSTOR, a digital library founded in 1995.

He was charged with computer fraud and other offenses, but after his arrest, JSTOR put out a statement saying it would not pursue civil litigation against him.

However, following this, certain US attorneys pursued the case through the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. There are some very dubious aspects of this act, such as its association with the Pariot act, but my question isn't focused on the above.

My question is: should it be legally possible for an individual who has broken a law to be pursued by someone other than the victim - say a State Attorney - when the victim itself has ceased pursuing any legal action against the individual?

asked Jan 22 '13 at 08:44

Jonathan%20Conway's gravatar image

Jonathan Conway

edited Jan 22 '13 at 11:37

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Just want to confirm that you mean the victim's desires after the fact. The desire of the "victim" before the fact would constitute consent.

From what I've read Swartz repeatedly gained access to a computer system which the owner was actively trying to keep him out of, and if the allegations are true it seems clear that he did so knowing this.

Why would it change the nature of the crime that the computer's owner later decided not to pursue civil litigation?

(Jan 22 '13 at 16:25) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I would think so. As I understand it, that's the actual job of the government. In a free society it is the government's job to punish those who break the law, I don't see why would the victim would have a say in it at all. The government is the one in the pursue of the criminal, not the victim, that is not his responsibility.

Example: a friend of mine breaks into my home steals a $1000 and hurts me with a knife. He broke the law, but say I decide that I will justify his actions for whatever reason or just forgive him because he is my friend. That would not stop the government from punishing him. It is a Rule of Law, not the rule of whims.

answered Jan 22 '13 at 14:06

Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Juan Diego dAnconia

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Asked: Jan 22 '13 at 08:44

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Last updated: Jan 22 '13 at 16:25