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Author Topic: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26  (Read 7537 times)

Stephen66515

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Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« on: January 12, 2013, 10:10:40 PM »
Aaron-Swartz.gif_(GIF_Image,_590A_A_A_392_pixels).jpg

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Aaron Swartz, an Internet genius who helped deliver new Web content to users by co-developing Reddit and RSS before becoming a digital activist, has committed suicide. He was 26.

Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for New York's chief medical examiner, told AFP that Swartz had hanged himself and was pronounced dead late Friday in the city's Brooklyn borough.

At the time of his death, Swartz, who had gone on to press for free public access to Web content, was just weeks away from being put on trial on accusations of stealing millions of scientific and literary journal articles from the subscription-only JSTOR service.

He faced decades in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted.

Following the activist's 2011 arrest in Boston, his anti-censorship group Demand Progress said the prosecution "makes no sense."

"It's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library," the group's executive director David Segar said then.

The hacktivist's family and friends placed some of the blame for his suicide on prosecutors and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Swartz made the JSTOR download using a laptop he placed in a utility closet.

"Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," they said in a public statement.

"Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney's Office and at MIT contributed to his death."

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who filed the indictment against Swartz, said then: "Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars."

Two years before the MIT incident, the FBI launched an investigation after Swartz released a trove of US federal court documents online that are usually only accessible at a fee through the government's Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER.

In 2008, that fee was eight cents per page.

According to the FBI's profile of Swartz, which he obtained and posted online, the activist had inundated the PACER system with requests in September 2008 at the rate of one prompt every three seconds.

In less than three weeks, he managed to download more than 18 million pages with an estimated value of $1.5 million to his home in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

"As I hoped, it's truly delightful," Swartz wrote of his FBI file.

Swartz also had publicly discussed on his blog his battle with depression.

"There is a moment, immediately before life becomes no longer worth living, when the world appears to slow down and all its myriad details suddenly become brightly, achingly apparent," he wrote in a 2007 post on his blog.

The post ended with the protagonist killing himself by stepping out into the middle of the street.

Fellow technology activist Cory Doctorow met Swartz at 14 or 15 after he had already helped develop the RSS tool for users to get updates from blogs, news headlines and other online content. He later co-founded the social news website Reddit.

"In so many ways, he was an adult, even then, with a kind of intense, fast intellect that really made me feel like he was part and parcel of the Internet society," Doctorow wrote on the Boing Boing blog.

"But Aaron was also a person who'd had problems with depression for many years... Whatever problems Aaron was facing, killing himself didn't solve them. Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever."

In an angry online post, Harvard Law School's Safra Center for Ethics director Lawrence Lessig denounced federal prosecutors' "bullying."

"The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a 'felon,'" Lessig wrote.

In an earlier post, the scholar wrote: "there is no way to express the sadness of this day."

"To the co-creator of RSS, of the Creative Commons architecture, of part of Reddit and of endless love and inspiration and friendships, rest. We are all incredibly sorry to have let you down," he added.

http://www.google.co...808953e0ff9bdf42.311

Renegade

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 10:39:43 PM »
A very sad loss. :(
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Stephen66515

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 10:41:24 PM »

Stephen66515

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2013, 10:42:18 PM »
I know mouser prefers me to write a little something when I add a post to the blog, but, I can't summarize anything better than the article itself did, and to be honest, I wouldn't want to even try.

Paul Keith

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2013, 12:12:26 AM »
In such cases, the easiest way is to read social media comments and paste them.  Unfortunately people tend to find them too long (especially if 2 cents are added) but the missing context:

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If every major mistake anyone made was accompanied by an impartial failure analysis instead of finger pointing and scapegoating, society would advance much more quickly.

http://news.ycombina....com/item?id=5048699

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US Federal prosecutors are pretty much Judge Dredd. The law gives them broad discretion and wide political independence; so much so that the broad and vague on-paper criminal law is irrelevant in practice. 95% of cases end in a plea bargain and federal juries have a conviction rate in the 80s.

http://law.wlu.edu/d...eview/67-4Podgor.pdf

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I'm the author of the petition, so allow me to explain my thinking; and why I don't expect Ms. Ortiz to lose her job over this.

1. Obama appointed her, and by many metrics she is doing a good job.

2. The DOJ under Holder is anything but Liberal in it's outlook, a DOJ that's onboard with killing civilians who are American citizens without requiring even a closed hearing from a judge does not care what you think about prosecutorial overreach.

3. Using outsize threats and the power of indictment to coerce defendants into pleading out is policy, and goes well beyond an individual D.A.'s practices in a given case.

That said; the purpose of this petition is to raise embarrassing questions in a way that demands an answer.

Justice in this country should aspire to be more than "the shadow cast by the powerful upon the weak".

note: I'm aware that I should have had someone else proofread the text and that my misedit of the first paragraph is now unfixable.

Official statement from the family and partner:

http://rememberaaron...and-partner-of-aaron

Twitter links:

https://twitter.com/...s/290204205124304896

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It wasn't Carmen Ortiz that hounded Aaron to death, it was Steve Heymann. And the system that helped him do it: that was all of us.

https://twitter.com/...s/290192055488094209

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FWIW, Carmen Ortiz just runs the US Attorney's office in MA. Stephen Heymann is the Assistant US Attorney going hard after Aaron Swartz.

Prosecutor as Bully: http://lessig.tumblr.../prosecutor-as-bully

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temphn 51 minutes ago | link

Think about Aaron Swartz, and now realize the balls and execution it took for Larry and Sergey to do Google Books. They got big enough that Google's "only" risk was a civil lawsuit. Had they been smaller, they would have been risking some ambitious federal prosecutor charging Google with wire fraud. Indeed, it's kind of lucky that someone like Ortiz wasn't around to throw the book at Alta Vista and early search engines for scraping sites too aggressively or without permission (before robots.txt became mainstream as a distributed solution without as much need for a centralized regulator).

As it was, DOJ did get involved in the Google Books case, pushing for a harsher civil settlement against Google:

http://news.cnet.com..._3-10357097-265.html

http://news.ycombina....com/item?id=5049992



JSTOR torrent: http://news.ycombina....com/item?id=5048529

The Web.py philosophy: http://news.ycombina....com/item?id=5048832

Reddit:

http://www.reddit.co...a/aaronsw_1986_2013/

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Please, if you are struggling and wanting to take your life, please, call a hotline.

US - 1-800-273-8255

UK - 08457 90 90 90

Also, r/suicidewatch

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There is also https://www.imalive.org/ for those who do not like talking on the phone.

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I was wondering where this was. I've actually been shocked all day at the lack of reddit response to this. Granted, the story had been top front page all day, but look over at HN--almost every damn slot is dedicated to AS. It seems like every corner of the Internet and hacker communities is paying massive tribute, and we aren't even flying Snoo at half-mast?

I know Aaron and reddit had a mixed relationship, particularly after his less-than-ideal departure, but I'd have thought that paltry and passed.

It's nice to see this, at least.

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konkedas 6 points 1 hour ago

It was at the top of the frontpage as soon as news broke but that link seemed to disappear within a couple hours. Not sure why it was taken down so quickly. Maybe because some family hadn't been informed at that point?

[–]ryanfreeborn 6 points 1 hour ago

It was the headline story at cnn.com by the time it disappeared from the front page so I doubt it was out of courtesy for unwitting friends and family.

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With the passing of Aaron Schwartz, I think its important everyone be aware of the different types of support Reddit offers especially /r/suicidewatch

http://www.reddit.co...chwartz_i_think_its/

It's really not that hard to find traditional media lacking in reporting all perspectives. The gamer Vilerat also had plenty of intricacies that can be talked about that was not covered in the initial media reports that were praised as good summaries.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 12:20:42 AM by Paul Keith »

wraith808

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2013, 08:50:48 AM »
I think I'll post my response in the basement...

oblivion

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2013, 06:00:49 PM »
I have obviously spent a very long time with my head under a rock. I spent some time today, having seen this post here and deciding I needed to know more about the whys and wherefores of this, reading various news reports, analyses and the like, and found out a lot that I don't think I'd properly realised about the US justice system. Despite paying a fair amount of attention to the Bradley Manning case, I somehow felt it was the exception rather than the rule.

Clearly, I was wrong.

Even though I'm currently reading a polemic disguised as a work of fiction by Cory Doctorow (Pirate Cinema, got it via the Humble ebook Bundle, and very good it is too), who has also written this tribute, I hadn't quite got to grips with the pervasive nature of the concept of "intellectual property" and the way the legal industry has found to keep itself in dollars by continually redefining crime in its respect in more and more abstruse ways.

And although the treatment of Aaron Swartz by the US justice system is utterly reprehensible, I'm quite sure there's no room for complacency for those of us who aren't US citizens.

I hope some lessons are being or will be learned.

But I fear they will not be. There's too many lawyers' jobs on the line. :(
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

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Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2013, 03:39:31 PM »
Long good post from a friend about Schwartz and his politics and how the system is corrupt and is betraying us:

http://www.nakedcapi...wartzs-politics.html

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Aaron Swartz was my friend, and I will always miss him. I think it’s important that, as we remember him, we remember that Aaron had a much broader agenda than the information freedom fights for which he had become known. Most people have focused on Aaron’s work as an advocate for more open information systems, because that’s what the Feds went after him for, and because he’s well-understood as a technologist who founded Reddit and invented RSS. But I knew a different side of him. I knew Aaron as a political activist interested in health care, financial corruption, and the drug war (we were working on a project on that just before he died). He was a great technologist, for sure, but when we were working together that was not all I saw...

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 09:49:32 AM »
internetactivists.jpg

Can't really argue with this...

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Re: Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz dies at 26
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 02:06:55 AM »
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Tinman57

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Rebooting Computer Crime Law
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2013, 06:37:30 PM »
Rebooting Computer Crime Law: What Needs To Be Fixed

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In the wake of social justice activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death, Internet users around the country are taking a hard look at the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA's greatest flaw is that makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization, but doesn't clearly explain what that means. This murkiness gives the government lots of leeway to be creative in bringing charges.

https://www.eff.org/...ing-terms-of-service