by Stephen Lendman
New York’s medical examiner announced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”
Lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? He was one of the Internet generation’s best and brightest.
He advocated online freedom. Selflessly he sought a better open world. Information should be freely available, he believed. A legion of followers supported him globally.
Alive he symbolized a vital struggle to pursue. Death may elevate him to martyr status but removes a key figure important to keep alive.
He was an Internet folk hero. He supported online freedom and copyright reform. He advocated free and open web files. He championed a vital cause. He worked tirelessly for what’s right.
Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called him “steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation.”
Who’ll replace him now that he’s gone? He called locking up the public domain sinful. He selflessly strove to prevent it.
In July 2011, he was arrested. At the time, he was downloading old scholarly articles. He was charged with violating federal hacking laws. MIT gave him a guest account to do it.
He developed RSS and co-founded Reddit. It’s a social news site.
He was found dead weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial. He was targeted for doing the right thing. He didn’t steal or profit. He shared. His activism was more than words.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends online freedom, free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights. It “champion(s) the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.”
On January 12, it headlined “Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist.” It called him “a close friend and collaborator.” Tragedy ended his life.
Vital questions remain unanswered. Supporters demand answers. So do family members.They blame prosecutors for what happened. Their statement following his death said the following:
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
Swartz did as much or more than anyone to make the Internet a thriving open knowledge ecosystem. He strove to keep it that way. He challenged repressive Internet laws.
He founded Demand Progress. It “works to win progressive policy changes for ordinary people through organizing and grassroots lobbying,” he said.
It prioritizes “civil liberties, civil rights, and government reform.” It ran online campaigns for justice. It advocated in the public interest. It challenged policies harming it.
He mobilized over a million online activists. His other projects included RSS specification, web.py, tor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere.
He launched Creative Commons. He co-founded Reddit. He and others made it successful. His Raw Thought blog discussed “politics and parody.” He had much to say worth hearing.
In 2011, he used the MIT campus network. He downloaded millions of journal articles. He used the JSTOR database. Authorities claimed he changed his laptop’s IP and Mac addresses. They said he did it to circumvent JSTOR/MIT blocks.
He was charged with “unauthorized (computer) access” under the Computer and Abuse Act. He did the equivalent of checking out too many library books at the same time.
Obama prosecutors claim doing so is criminal. They’ve waged war on Internet freedom. They want Net Neutrality and free expression abolished. They want fascist laws replacing them.
They usurped diktat power. They spurn rule of law………….