Aaron Swartz: No Justice in Unjust Laws


By Kris Newby (Provided by Artist) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Destiny

Aaron Swartz began working with computers at a very young age. He went on to co-develop Reddit and RSS all while still a teenager. He had an insatiable curiosity combined with passion, creativity and sheer brilliance. He was a computer prodigy turned political activist who believed in an open internet and free information.

Open access

Aaron truly believed in open access to information. He dropped out of Stanford after one year and pursued online learning. It was this time when he realized how unethical it was that anyone couldn’t access information for free. He then took matter in his own hands and started publishing documents from databases and the government on the internet for free. He also created a guest account at MIT and placed a computer in a supply closet while downloading millions of documents to put on the web for free. He ultimately was charged with computer fraud and illegally obtaining documents and then he was later indicted in the MIT incident. Ultimately the pressures he faced from the impending litigation and suffering from psychological issues became to much for him and he committed suicide.

Daniel J. Sieradski [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The World is Talking

I didn’t know about Aaron Swartz before watching the documentary The Internet’s Own Boy but I was aware of the talk about petitioning government regulation of the internet. This included the anti-SOPA fight and many people became of aware of this when Wikipedia and Reddit, two sites I use probably daily, shut down to protest against SOPA. Now after watching the documentary and researching Aaron, I learned that he was fighting for the freedom of knowledge long before I and probably others even knew it was an issue. I am not saying that today all our problems are changed and the laws are not unethical and are in the best interest of the people. What I am saying though is now we are talking about the unjust and unethical prohibition of knowledge. We can’t let Aaron’s death be in vain and in my opinion it isn’t because although his death is extremely sad it has brought attention to the injustice not only in our legal system but in the prohibition of freedom of knowledge. A big part of the battle is awareness and now that we are aware. We can fight, for a free and fair world.

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