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Published on January 14th, 2013 | by Kennedy Ray0
Aaron Swartz Suicide : Anonymous Hacks MIT
Aaron Swartz committed suicide Friday, January 11th, 2012. He was an American computer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer and Internet activist. Aaron Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA). Read more about the Aaron Swartz suicide below.
Friends refer to him as an ideological brother in arms, a passionate advocate for access to information and for a free and open Internet. Aaron believed in building a world defined by social and economic justice.
Only a few hours after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pledged an investigation into Aaron Swartz suicide, online hacktivist group Anonymous hacks MIT, calling his tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.
A basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response.
Anonymous Hacks MIT
“Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for — freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it — enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing — an ideal that we should all support. -You were the best of us; may you yet bring out the best in us.”
Aaron Swartz Suicide
In July 2011, Aaron Swartz was indicted in Boston on charges of data theft. He stole more than four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers.
He was indicted by the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz. The charges could result in up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine. You can read the official documents here.
“Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars,” said Ms. Ortiz in a press release.
Anonymous request petiton: Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of #Aaron Swartz
His friend Cory Doctorow writes about the Aaron Swartz suicide in his RIP post at BoinBoing:
Even though MIT and JSTOR (the journal publisher) backed down, the prosecution kept on. I heard lots of theories: the feds who’d tried unsuccessfully to nail him for the PACER/RECAP stunt had a serious hate-on for him; the feds were chasing down all the Cambridge hackers who had any connection to Bradley Manning in the hopes of turning one of them, and other, less credible theories. A couple of lawyers close to the case told me that they thought Aaron would go to jail.
Aaron Swartz was a contributing editor at The Baffler:
To us, he was a friend, colleague, and inspiration. He loved The Baffler, instantly saw the point of reviving it, and played an indispensible role in making that happen. He spent his last days hounded by a prosecutor determined to make an example of him. He was probably the sweetest and gentlest person we ever knew. We loved him, and we miss him already. – John Summers
In July 2011, they wrote:
The real purpose of the indictment is to terrorize advocates for open access at a time when corporations and their allies in government feel themselves under siege by hackers. Aaron, then, offers an excellent opportunity for the government to reassert its role as a security service for powerful institutions and their clients, a role that it’s been bungling of late.
Threatening him with a long detention signals a coming counter-offensive against the more democratic culture for which he and others like him stand, and once again illustrates the Obama administration’s awful zeal for prosecuting whistleblowers and anti-secrecy activists. The U.S. Attorney should withdraw the indictment, apologize to Aaron and his family, and busy her office with real criminals.
RIP Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz keynote – “How we stopped SOPA”
Swartz explains in this video, how the tech and internet community in general was able to quickly organize and ultimately cause SOPA’s author to dismiss the bill.
From Wiki: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the websites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the websites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Don’t let us forget what Aaron Swartz did for the online community. He got the ball rolling with Demand Progress and fought for our rights. Wikipedia, Reddit, and an estimated 7,000 other smaller websites coordinated a service blackout, to raise awareness. Over 160 million people viewed Wikipedia’s banner. Other protests against SOPA and PIPA included petition drives, with Google stating it collected over 7 million signatures, boycotts of companies and organizations that support the legislation, and an opposition rally held in New York City.
“The Internet really is out of control,” said Aaron Swartz. “But if we forget that, if we let Hollywood rewrite the story so it was just big company Google who stopped the bill, if we let them persuade us we didn’t actually make a difference, if we start seeing it as someone else’s responsibility to do this work, and it’s just our job to go home and curl up on the couch, pop some popcorn and watch Transformers, well then next time, they might just win. Let’s not let that happen.”
Below you can find his writings on his blog, his Twitter account and website. See also a screenshot of his latest tweet, 3 days before his suicide:
The Baffler: His interests and talents were amazingly diverse, as displayed on his blog
When I researched Aaron in preparation for this article, I came across one of his writings of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight”, November 1st 2012:
What Happens in The Dark Knight
Below some exerpts, read the weblog here.
Note the parallels. In Alfred’s story the entire status quo (including the local government and tribal leaders) is totally corrupt: the official plan is to bribe people. But the plan is defeated by someone even crazier, someone willing to steal the money but not interested in keeping it for himself.
At the end of the movie, the Joker is alive, the gangsters and their money launderers are mostly dead, and their money has been redistributed (albeit though the deflationary method of setting it on fire). And, as we see from the beginning of the third movie, this is a fairly stable equilibrium: with politicians no longer living in fear of the gangsters, they’re free to adopt tough anti-crime policies that keep them from rising again.
You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time. You thought we could lead by example. You thought the rules could be bent but not break…2 you were wrong. The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.
RIP Aaron – You will be missed.