Sunday, January 13, 2013

Remember Aaron Swartz

From the "Official Statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz"

Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.

Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable—these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.

Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.

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 U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.

The Seagull, along with almost every other programmers in this world, is saddened by the pointless loss of a truly gifted talent, one who loves this world with his tireless efforts to contribute the knowledge base and to care for the general people. However, what bothers the Seagull most are:

  • The sole reason of his death seems to be a result of a pointless prosecution jointly conducted by the US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and the MIT.

  • After scrutinizing the case documents, there is no 'hacking' involved, whatsoever. The public wouldn't have the technical expertise to tell the difference between an access and a hack. And the whole crime case with 14 charges was built upon the assumption of public/jury of your peers's inability to tell.

  • It's unclear which way the trail would go, had the case seen its day in the court. However, the power of prosecutorial intimidation is mighty enough to crush a talent of our time.

  • The US justice system did this one year after the British government apologized for the death of Alan Turing, 38 years too late.

  • The attitude of 'I am right (by my book), so I'm right to nuke you' that dominates our time.

The Seagull, a small time programmer, demands an answer and accountability from the prosecutor, the judge and the justice system as well as the MIT.

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