Where does hacktivism fall on the ethical scale compared to other forms of hacking activities and cyber crime

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Please read the article entitled “The Inside Story of Why Aaron Swartz Broke Into MIT and JSTOR:
And watch the short video below (“The Story of Aaron Swartz: The Internet’s Own Boy”):

There has been widespread support for civic engagement to ensure the accountability of the government and to bring attention to social causes. In addition, this widespread support has been used to protest against the practices of large corporations, academic institutions, and foreign governments. Activism has played a significant role in ending slavery, challenging dictatorships, protecting workers from exploitation, protecting the environment, promoting equality for women, opposing racism, and many other vital issues.

Hacktivists are the modern incarnation of activists who use the Internet and computer-based techniques such as hacking (usually done illegally) to promote a political or social agenda. Many activism tools can be transformed to work for hacktivism, with the added advantage of computer-based techniques and the wide reach of the Internet. Hacktivists can launch denial of service attacks (DoS), deface websites, disclose embarrassing information about governments and corporations, and help organize public protests. The tools that hacktivists use are also used by hackers, intelligence services, terrorists, and nation-states. The distinction between the groups depends on who is evaluating the actions.

(1) Where does hacktivism fall on the ethical scale compared to other forms of hacking activities and cyber crime (e.g., terrorism, espionage, etc.)?
Discuss in detail with examples.
A particularly sad case was that of Aaron Swartz, a talented programmer, co-founder of Reddit, and an Internet freedom activist who believed that all academic research should be made public. He downloaded millions of articles from the digital archive JSTOR through MIT’s network, in violation of the Terms of Agreement, presumably to distribute them online. He was arrested before he could make them public and faced 13 felony counts and potentially 50 years in prison. One of the articles of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) reads, “if someone knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer…”.

The charges on Swartz hinge on the interpretation that anyone violating the terms of service is an unauthorized user, rendering all of their activities illegal. He was offered six months behind bars as a plea deal, which he refused, and instead committed suicide in 2013.
(2) Was this government overreach on civil disobedience, or appropriate action to prosecute and discourage future criminal activity?
(3) Was Aaron Swartz’s sentence justifiable for violating the Terms of Agreement of JSTOR? Explain your reasoning.

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