Rep. Zoe Lofgren has announced that internet activist Aaron Swartz will be posthumously honored for his ardent work for open access rights to online documents. Lofgren said that Swartz will receive the 2013 James Madison award, which is administered by the American Library Association on Friday.
Named after the 4th American President, the James Madison award is given to those who have:
championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know national information
Democrat Congresswoman Lofgren, who represents Silicon Valley, will present the award to Swartz’ family at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C. She received the award herself last year for her persistent efforts to ensure public access to government information. She is also the representative behind the proposed reform to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), entitled “Aaron’s Law”. Lofgren wants amendments made to the CFAA so that terms of service violations (which Swartz was being prosecuted for) are excluded.
Swartz committed suicide in January 11th in the face of federal prosecution in which he was facing 13 felony charges. His friends, family and thousands of his supporters have labeled the prosecution against him as “overzealous” and claim that the case represented all that was wrong with the U.S. justice system. A “We The People” petition calling for lead prosecutor Carmen Ortiz to be removed from office for overreach has reached the signature threshold it needs to garner an official response from the Obama Administration. It has yet to receive an official response.
However just last week, top U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Swartz case was “a good use of prosecutorial discretion” echoing the statement from Ortiz, that the prosecution acted “appropriately” against Swartz.