January 16, 2013

The World Tragically Lost A Genius In Aaron Swartz



I've avoided writing about Aaron Swartz, the boy genius, optimist, populist, kind, brilliant, young, hacktivist, who committed suicide last Friday. It's just so sad to contemplate. He accomplished more in his 26 years on earth, than most people accomplish in a lifetime.

I didn’t know Aaron personally, but I knew of him. At 14 he invented RSS feeds, he was a co-founder of Reddit, he battled depression, was an enthusiastic proponent of an open internet, he helped develop creative commons, and founded Demand Progress, to battle SOPA and PIPA.

Swartz was arrested by the federal government for allegedly downloading a million documents from a computer database that he had legal access to.  Jack Phillips  wrote about Aaron for the Epoch Times.

According to the Boston Globe, Swartz faced as many as 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
According to the government’s charges, Swartz used MIT’s computer network to access the JSTOR database in an attempt to make its content widely available on the Internet for free. The database’s content is usually provided only to paid subscribers, according to the Globe.
“He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” father Robert Swartz said at the Chicago memorial service, reported the Chicago Sun-Times. His father added, “[Aaron was] hounded by the government, and MIT refused him.”
I don’t understand all of the intricacies of Aaron’s legal troubles, but 35 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine seems like cruel and unusual punishment. If there was a crime committed, who was the victim?

Why would a prosecutor want to put a genius who achieved so much and never hurt anyone, in prison for 35 years? Such a sad story.

Rest In Peace Aaron.  



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