Rep. Zoe Lofgren announced today that she’ll present the 2013 James Madison Award to the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz “in honor of his dedication to expanding access to public information in the digital age.”
Swartz’s family will accept the award, named in honor of President James Madison and administered by the American Library Association, which recognizes those who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know. Lofgren, D-San Jose, will present the award at a ceremony Friday night at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
Lofgren received this award last year for her congressional work in protecting and advancing the freedom of information, and is now drafting “Aaron’s Law” legislation to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the wire fraud statute to protect other Internet users from outsized liability for everyday activity.
Swartz – a longtime crusader against Internet censorship – was charged with two counts of wire fraud and 11 CFAA violations, carrying combined penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines plus restitution, for downloading millions of academic journal articles from a subscription-only service without authorization. He hanged himself in January in his Brooklyn apartment at age 26.
UPDATE @ 5:05 P.M. THURSDAY: Lofgren regrets she won’t be able to attend after all “because of a personal matter,” her office announced a short while ago.