Death of Aaron Swartz

The internet activist Aaron Swartz

The internet activist Aaron Swartz

Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep. — Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of world wide web

Aaron did more than almost anyone to make the Internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge, and to keep it that way. — Peter Eckersley, Electronic Frontier Foundation

I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron’s downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail. — Alex Stamos

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behaviour. — Lawrence Lessig, Harvard law professor and ex-mentor

Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so. — Cory Doctorow

When Vince Cerf helped develop the internet it was to be an open system to enable the free flow of information, specifically designed to circumvent road blocks on the information highway.

Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web, it was, as he said at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, his gift to the world.

Much as I may criticise Wikipedia as being a source of flawed, unreliable information, it does at least comply with the ethos of the internet of providing free uncensored information.

The World Wide Web and the internet are a global commons, we pay our dues for what we withdraw by ourselves contributing information.

Open Source software is created by a joint effort of talented software designers who make their efforts available free for all to use.

Creative Commons is a means of distributing information without the restriction of copyright, but wish still retaining rights to stop commercial exploitation.

There are though Dark Forces who wish to push the opposite way.

Hollywood, and music industry, and now book publishers, often one and the same global corporations, try to criminalise those who wish to see the free flow of information.

DRM is a pernicious addition to e-books. It restricts where and how you can read an e-book. Those with the ability strip it off.

Aaron Swartz was an internet pioneer, an advocate of internet freedom and free flow of information. He helped develop RSS, he helped found Reddit, he founded and/or supported Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, he fought Sopa, he liberated millions of academic papers.

On Friday Aaron Swartz was found hanged, hounded to his death by the US Department of Justice.

Aaron Swartz was right to liberate academic papers. This is part of our common heritage, should be in the public domain. Not though the view of the Department of Justice, they wished to see a life sentence handed down, the sentence normally reserved for violent crimes.

We saw Gary McKinnon hounded by the so-called US Justice Authorities, but luckily the British stood firm and refused to extradite.

Bradley Manning has been detained for an indefinite period in a tiny cell. No charges have been laid.

Hacking should not be a criminal offence, at worse trespass has taken place. If malicious, then prosecute for criminal damage or release of personal information.

Release of academic information into the public domain should be applauded nor persecuted.

Aaron Swartz did not hack into MIT to access the academic papers, he merely wrote a script to make a large number of downloads, nothing more, and yet for doing what he already has authorisation for individual downloads (he simply automated the process) he was facing life imprisonment.

The public prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz to his death must be stripped by the American Bar Association of her licence to practice and barred for life for practising law. She abused her office and has shown she is not fit to hold any public office, not even local rat catcher.

Facebook turns into a business model the violation of personal privacy, it is trying to turn the open internet into a private for profit intranet, aided and abetted by people like Paulo Coelho, an advocate of an open internet who should no better, who foolishly enabled facebook comments on his blog.

This is not to argue that people should not benefit from their intellectual endeavours. There are sites like bandcamp that puts money straight into the pocket of creative artists for their intellectual endeavours, whilst at the same time making sharing easy. The two are not mutually exclusive.

We live in a world where the bankers, those who caused the financial crash, are fêted at the White House, not rotting in gaol as should be, where Obama appoints a torturer to head the CIA.

For many Aaron Swartz was simply known as @aaronsw, for many others he was merely known through his good works.

We can all pay tribute to Aaron Swartz, not by mourning his untimely death, sad as though it is, but by celebrating his good work and most importantly continuing his fight against the Dark Forces who wish to abuse the internet and stop the free flow of information.

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2 Responses to “Death of Aaron Swartz”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Aaron Swartz’s Lawyer: Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Wanted ‘Juicy’ Case For Publicity
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-stephen-heymann_n_2473278.html

  2. keithpp Says:

    Aaron Swartz Public Memorial Service at Cooper Union
    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/aaron-swartz-public-memorial-service-at-cooper-union/

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