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Thread: Aaron Swartz, Reddit co-founder and online activist, commits suicide

  1. #1
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    Aaron Swartz, Reddit co-founder and online activist, commits suicide

    Quote Originally Posted by Los Angeles Times


    A co-founder of Reddit and activist who fought to make online content free to the public has been found dead, authorities confirmed Saturday, prompting an outpouring of grief from prominent voices on the intersection of free speech and the Web.

    Aaron Swartz, 26, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment weeks before he was to go on trial on accusations that he stole millions of journal articles from an electronic archive in an attempt to make them freely available. If convicted, he faced decades in prison and a fortune in fines.

    He was pronounced dead Friday evening at home in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for New York's chief medical examiner.

    Swartz was “an extraordinary hacker and activist,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international nonprofit digital rights group based in California wrote in a tribute on its home page.

    He “did more than almost anyone to make the Internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge, and to keep it that way,” the tribute said.

    Swartz was a prodigy who as a young teenager helped create RSS, a family of Web feed formats used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video for users. He co-founded the social news website Reddit, which was later sold to Conde Nast, as well as the political action group Demand Progress, which campaigns against Internet censorship.

    Among Internet gurus, Swartz was considered a pioneer of efforts to make online information freely available.

    “Playing Mozart's Requiem in honor of a brave and brilliant man,” tweeted Carl Malamud, an Internet public domain advocate who believes in free access to legally obtained files.

    Swartz aided Malamud's own effort to post federal court documents for free online, rather than the few cents per page that the government charges through its electronic archive, PACER. In 2008, The New York Times reported, Swartz wrote a program to legally download the files using free access via public libraries. About 20 percent of all the court papers were made available until the government shut down the library access.

    The FBI investigated but did not charge Swartz, he wrote on his own website.

    Three years later, Swartz was arrested in Boston and charged with stealing millions of articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prosecutors said he broke into a computer wiring closet on campus and used his laptop for the downloads.

    Experts puzzled over the arrest and argued that the result of the actions Swartz was accused of was the same as his PACER program: more information publicly available.

    The prosecution “makes no sense,” Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal said in a statement at the time. “It's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”

    Swartz pleaded not guilty to charges including wire fraud. His federal trial was to begin next month.

    According to a federal indictment, Swartz stole the documents from JSTOR, a subscription service used by MIT that offers digitized copies of articles from academic journals. Prosecutors said he intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites.

    He faced 13 felony charges, including breaching site terms and intending to share downloaded files through peer-to-peer networks, computer fraud, wire fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer, and criminal forfeiture.

    JSTOR did not press charges once it reclaimed the articles from Swartz, and some legal experts considered the case unfounded, saying that MIT allows guests access to the articles and Swartz, a fellow at Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics, was a guest.

    Criticizing the government's actions in the pending prosecution, Harvard law professor and Safra Center faculty director Lawrence Lessig called himself a friend of Swartz's and wrote Saturday that “we need a better sense of justice. … The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a `felon.“’

    JSTOR announced this week that it would make “more than 4.5 million articles” publicly available for free.
    Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,1934175.story

  2. #2
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    This is really sad news uhgughguh

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    +1 Martyr

    It angers me that this fellow had so much potential, but had to die simply because people are stubborn and greedy.
    True, the government needs money, but not like this.

    His methods were rather radical, but I can see how strongly he felt about this. It's a shame people are going to start insulting him for being 'selfish' and 'impulsive' because they're not capable of looking at this from a different perspective.
    Last edited by Dracius; 01-13-2013 at 02:18 AM.
    ~

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    ^ Wow I was thinking that when I reading the article.

    Really says something about our society when death is actually the better option in this case.

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    It's stupid how there are real criminals all over the country who don't have to face $4 million fines and 50 years in prison for the disgusting things they've done, yet this kid's well-intentioned actions warranted such harsh consequences.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by radionoise View Post
    It's stupid how there are real criminals all over the country who don't have to face $4 million fines and 50 years in prison for the disgusting things they've done, yet this kid's well-intentioned actions warranted such harsh consequences.
    It's simply because of who's affected.
    This is killing the profits of those higher-ups in government, while a killer ended the lives of some random people.

    It's a pity, but that's how it all boils down.
    ~

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dracius View Post
    It's simply because of who's affected.
    This is killing the profits of those higher-ups in government, while a killer ended the lives of some random people.

    It's a pity, but that's how it all boils down.
    But it doesn't affect the profits of those in the government, from my understanding the JSTOR was the one compromised and they didn't pursue any charges after they retrieved their "stolen" data. The only thing the government could stand to gain from prosecution is maybe start a witch hunt and establish precedents for this sort of thing.

  9. #9
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    "suicide"
    Yeah. I bet.

  10. #10
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    Lost all credibility after he committed suicide

    Anyone who takes their life away... No excuse. None.

    His Martyring did absolutely nothing in the public eye, no news broadcasts about his death, no one at work (a post office where news is shared and thrived upon) cared or even gave a second glance.

    I didn't even know about this until today when i stumbled to post something in this section.

    Senseless death for no good reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dracius View Post
    +1 Martyr

    It angers me that this fellow had so much potential, but had to die simply because people are stubborn and greedy.
    True, the government needs money, but not like this.

    His methods were rather radical, but I can see how strongly he felt about this. It's a shame people are going to start insulting him for being 'selfish' and 'impulsive' because they're not capable of looking at this from a different perspective.
    by saying he "had" to die...
    Look at it in the general population section, Martyrs are only effective if they reach a wide audience.
    The Internet is NOT that wide of audience yet, it has not saturated everything.

    Really...
    *shudders*

    IF. If he wanted to make a statement, do it in prison.
    Last edited by Aubog007; 01-24-2013 at 11:30 AM.

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