In 1986 Aaron Hillel Swartz was born in Highland Park Illinois to Susan and Robert Swartz. Aaron had two brothers Benjamin and Noah, his father who was the founder of the Mark Williams Company, given this, it’s easy to see where Aaron had adapted his love for technology. Robert Swartz bought the family a computer when Aaron was just 4 years old and by age 7 Aaron had coded a trivia game about the famed game Donkey Kong that he and his brother played regularly. Aaron embodied the Net as if it was part of him or an extension of his being, from a young age the Net was his safe place, a place where his age or popularity had no relevance only the intellectual views and opinions of his extraordinary mind were valued. Aaron was helping to build Creative Commons as young as age 9. He was a prodigy, a kid genius, we knew at that time he would change the world, but I don’t think anyone could have imagined Aaron would touch each every one of our lives the way he did.
At just age 13 Aaron was awarded the ArsDigita Prize which is awarded to young people who create “useful, educational and collaborative” non-commercial websites. Less than a year later at age 14, he was a member of the working group that authored RSS which uses a family of websites to publish frequently updated information including blog entries, news headlines, audio, and videos. RSS enables publishers to syndicate data automatically.
Aaron founded Infogami which later merged with the popular social news site Reddit and watchdog.net, help create DeadDrop and created web.py. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to rally the internet masses behind stopping SOPA and PIPA from passing into law, he opened doors that had long been closed behind PACER and freed information on a massive scale with The Internets Open Archive. He completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. To say he’s a hero is a gross understatement, what little exist of our Internet Privacy today is due in large part to the sacrifices Aaron made to defend the fragile existence that is our internet privacy. He risked his freedom along with everything he ever held close to him and volunteered to become a martyr for information, to me personally Aaron Swartz is a Saint, he dangled himself in front of a wolf in sheep’s clothing better known as our Justice System, not for personal profits or political hoopla nor his own secret agenda he did all this, for us.
These are the Arron Swartz Files
I personally have investigated this case since the day it happened I remember waking up to alerts chiming, I checked my messages and found out that Aaron had committed suicide, yes that Aaron the inspiration to every aspect of the WEDA Coalition was gone, the extraordinary machine that was his heart was no longer beating. I was beside myself, Aaron brought a lot of us hope and when they took him from us that hope was lost as well. Was this the United States goal all along? To stymie a revolution? SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act which if passed would have everlasting negative effects on our internet privacy. Thankfully Aaron founded DemandProgress.org and led the charge against the Motion Picture Association of America the largest political PAC’s in existence. Which set up a David v.s. Goliath battle for the ages with Aaron Swartz riling up the Internet masses to vote against SOPA and the Motion Picture Association of America who was pumping obscene amounts of money into getting SOPA passed into law clashing, MPAA failed miserably because people hit the streets in protest and slowly but surely the congressional approval of SOPA was reversed by the will of the People.
In being that voice behind the failure of a Bill in which billions of dollars were invested, Aaron became a target as did others like Kim Dot Com and countless other people who were doing nothing but utilizing their voices to condemn gross violations of our privacy rights. Aaron was placed on a list no different from a Terror Watchlist, he was hunted, harassed and subpoenaed into debt not mention the public embarrassment of his trial and the morbid thought of being labeled a felon. All these could be seen as viable reasons why such an extraordinary machine would choose to turn himself off, but it is in my personal opinion that although these are things that caused him great pain I do not believe that Aaron would kill himself for reasons such as the ones mentioned. I reject the notion that he was depressed before his death and deem this to be a story peddled by the establishment to weaken their own faults in the death of Aaron Swartz.
First Chair prosecutor, in this case, was a woman by the name of Carmen Ortiz a brutish predator and relentless character assassin who belittled and drained Aaron mentally, physically and financially. In researching this case you would think Aaron stole millions from the Federal Reserve, I would argue the information he was freeing and the close doors that the government has had sealed shut for a long time, that he was opening were far more threatening than the $5.000 in damages he caused to both MIT and JSTOR combined. It’s preposterous to proclaim that this case was about damages, it was about chopping the proverbial “head off the snake” and the “snake” was the movement that Aaron was starting, about the knowledge he was freeing and about the words he spoke, not for one second was this case ever about hacking or protecting MIT’s network it was always about turning off the extraordinary machine we knew as Aaron Swartz. Quinn Norton while being interrogated by FBI agents looked them in their eyes and said “You guys are on the wrong side of history” I would like to further that and say that the DOJ and MIT are also both on the wrong side of history.
“A vivid illustration that bureaucracies, once they get started, continue doing whatever mindless thing they’ve been set up to do, regardless of whether the people in them particularly want to do it or whether it’s even a good idea.” – Aaron Swartz
Fall of 2010
Aaron Swartz began downloading documents from JSTOR using MIT’s network, however, MIT did not know the identity of the of the person or group involved in downloading reams of data from JSTOR’s network. MIT claims Aaron engaged in this activity on three occasions that MIT had documented involving millions of JSTOR documents being downloaded from MIT’s server. MIT at the time was actively trying to locate and identify the person or group responsible because downloads of this scale from MIT violated the license agreement JSTOR and MIT had. According to court documents, MIT’s network was used by someone at MIT, presumably Aaron on September the 25th and the 26th. Also on October 9th and for an extended period between November of 2010 and January 6th the same day Aaron was arrested. Before his arrest he kept accessing JSTOR’s network and downloading files at what a JSTOR technician said was an “abnormal” rate they blocked Aarons IP address from being able to access their database on three separate occasions that coincide with the documented times Aaron used MIT’s network to download files from JSTOR, first on September 26th, 2010 then on October 2nd, 2010 and on January 4th 2011 two days prior to his arrest. The event in October led to JSTOR blocking access as a whole to MIT’s network for three full days, downloading files from JSTOR’s database using MIT’s network at such a massive volume raised a “profound” risk to JSTOR’s network and violated the licensing agreement between MIT and JSTOR. All these facts are evident and should be uniformly accepted, but JSTOR censored Aaron and censoring a pirate is just as bad as stealing their gold, Did Aaron violate JSTOR’s terms of services? Yes, but so do you when you say your 5’8′” and you really are 5’9″ and you sign up for some dating site. Aaron wasn’t stealing documents to make a bookstore he was doing it to free information. The question isn’t whether or not Aaron committed a felony when he downloaded more 80% of JSTOR’s database, it’s whether or not he was on the right or the wrong side in history when he committed this “crime”.
January 6th, 2011
Aaron Swartz is arrested in Massachusetts by Cambridge police next to the campus of MIT. He was charged with breaking and entering which is a felony, Aaron makes bail shortly thereafter. July 14th, 2011 nearly 7 months later Aaron Swartz is indicted on six counts in Middlesex Superior Court and 4 counts in Federal court on two separate occasions, on July 14th, 2011 and November 18th, 2011. The government dragging court proceedings on and on is a common tactic but just because it’s common doesn’t make it any less disgusting. It’s mentally debilitating to have the weight of the United States Department of Justice sitting on your chest for any amount of time, but they purposefully drag out cases only to weaken the prey they are hunting, they make sure they are that heavy burden your shoulders will never be able to shake. to be indicted by the Federal government is in of itself psychological war being launched on you and everything you love.
March 8th, 2011
The state of Massachusetts dropped their 6 count indictment and the Federal indictment was superseded the revised indictment was an astonishing 13 count federal indictment. A 13 count federal indictment and he didn’t hurt a fly, he didn’t harm MIT or JSTOR’s network, the files he took were being used for profit, a means for in which these Academic Journals were never meant to be used for, but Aaron is the criminal? I beg of any law professor to please underline for me where Aarons acts justify the actions carried out by the Office of Carmen Ortiz and the DOJ as a whole?
October 5th, 2012
In a court document, Swartz claimed MIT violated its own policy by providing the Secret Service with details and logs of his activity without warrant or subpoena. MIT’s lawyers argued that they did not violate their own policy because their private policy did not include the word “any” when speaking of data in their private policy, sad thing is they won their petty argument which only goes on to further the blatant corruption filled crusade that was launched on Aaron Swartz and his family.
November 16th, 2012
The government files their response, Judge Nathaniel M. Gordon ruled that the personal data about Aaron’s comings and goings on MIT’s network are not to be thrown out and will be heard in full. It’s at this moment that I believe in my own personal opinion that Aaron felt the wind was being taken out of his sails before the trial even began. It’s demonically ironic that Aaron was being prosecuted for in a sense violating private policy or terms and conditions of JSTOR and MIT, but it’s perfectly justifiable for MIT to violate their own policies?
December 2nd, 2012
Aaron filed a response simply asking the court for more time to give his rebuttal to the government’s response in which Judge Nathaniel M. Gordon granted him and the trial was postponed another month. Although it is Swartz asking for more time in this instance we have to take into account just how long the DOJ and more specifically the office of Carmen Ortiz has dragged this case on. Aaron was arrested in 2010, Aaron’s last submitted court document was December 2nd, 2012 nearly 3 years later. Why is the DOJ dragging Aaron’s case on and on? To weaken him financially, mentally and physically. I will point out once again that this was never a case about damages especially when those damages only amount to 5,000 dollars, this was a witch hunt, a common era crusade dead set on burning Aaron at the stake and making an example out of him not on finding justice by any means or protecting MIT’s network.
Friday, January 11th, 2013
“The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” -Aaron Swartz’s attorney Elliot R. Peters told The Tech
In the early hours of this dreadful Friday in January Aaron Swartz flipped the switch off on the extraordinary machine that was his life, why he did this will be a mystery we all take to our own graves. I’m certain I have never asked myself why so many times in a single day before. Aaron always finished what he started and when we look at all he started we must conclude that Aaron was not done. It is up to us to finish what he started, to complete his projects and to never ever let his name be forgotten.
It is in this coalition’s collective opinion that Aaron Swartz is not with us today because of the actions carried out by the United States Department of Justice and it’s horrible continuous systematically feigning justice system. Who sought nothing else but to destroy who we now know as “The Internets Own Boy” and his family, to bankrupt them and deprive them of their own peace of mind whilst violating the sovereignty of their privacy as a whole, they were no longer citizens, they were targets. Why were many of Aaron’s friends and family interrogated by FBI agents? In a case where the prosecution offered six months jail time? I would say an “abnormal” rate and not because he stole money or credit card numbers, he stole academic journals, journals that were never published for profit, these journals are still being monopolized by this one site, JSTOR. Why should knowledge cost a penny? Is it because the powers that be want us to be stupid sheep blindly being led to slaughter?
MIT is equally if not more responsible for the death of Aaron and this Coalition is collectively disgusted by your actions. How dare, an Institute such as yourselves disband such an extraordinary person? To literally stop the evolution of technology and the freedoms of information in their tracks instead of being the driving force behind them? After what you did to Aaron that is your legacy, a mere establishment University being puppets to the powers that be. With just one piece of paper, you could have ended this crusade before it began instead you consciously chose to vilify Aaron even though the total damages to MIT and JSTOR combined was only $5,000. Any and all active administration officials at MIT during the Aaron Swartz case lied to the Swartz family when they told the Swartz family personally, that they had been subpoenaed, which is why they gave Aarons personal MIT login times. Court records show MIT was subpoenaed after Aaron Swartz was arrested. MIT lied to the Swartz family and the public when they claimed they had no contact with the U.S. DA’s office yet later admitted that they asked the government for no jail time in Swartz’s case, which would mean that MIT had conversations with the prosecutor about how much time Aaron Swartz should or shouldn’t receive. That Hal Abelson’s own inquiry proves MIT lied to the public and Hal Abelson purposefully deceived the public in his inquiry. With no due respect, your investigation was not independent and heavily steered away from chastising MIT at all which is why president Rafael Reif would announce in advance that the inquiry would be made public leaving it to be forever tainted in the public eye because the thought of MIT publicly criticizing themselves is laughable. MIT failed to secure what they claim is a restricted closet, it underlines laughing-out-loud at security, to prosecute Aaron for pointing out the flaws and outright stupidity that is MIT’s network is redundantly inhumane. Hacking was born on the very network you boldly stand by, you hold hackathons, teach students how to pick locks, ordain your institution on the pursuit of furthering technology, you invite free thought and expression, your institute is sought by aspiring students who believe in these values and you shattered all of that in one heinous act, MIT should feel nothing, but shame and complicity in the death of Aaron Swartz.
To the Swartz Family
Aaron was a lot of things to many of us, but he was yours first. Everything the world thinks they may know about Aaron, you know more. All of our collective pain combined is a fraction of the pain you feel, you created a child that turned the world upside down whilst speeding up its evolution. Your son may not be here today, but what he created will always be here, the codes he wrote are used on a daily basis, he created a perpetually growing legacy and if something is growing, then it can not be dead. It is our duty and our moral imperative to finish what Aaron started, to continue to pursue the freedoms of information and protect our Internet as we know it because “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”
We the people
Exuding free speech
Deserve nothing less than