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Aaron Swartz

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Aaron Swartz
Tyler Haug
HUM 200
Dr. Dustow
September 30, 2015

Aaron Swartz was a college drop out, an innovator, a genius to men much older than him, and also a felon. All he liked to do was learn the ins and outs about everything, especially computers. Aaron spent a lot of time in the library learning. He created the RSS, reddit, and Demand Progress. When he created Demand Progress, it was to campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act. But, what he was most noted for was the stealing of JSTOR’s (journal storage) academic archive from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) computer system. Aaron believed that anything that belonged to learning should not be reduced to a monetary exchange. Then on January 11, 2013 he was found dead and no body knows how. It was said to be of suicide.
At the beginning, prior to being arrested, he had stolen millions of academic journals from JSTOR at their MIT campus location. He went into a downstairs room where all the servers were at in the school, and hooked up his laptop to start his downloading. Aaron was smart, for every time JSTOR tried to slow him down, he would find his way back on just using a different ghost name. But, tables had turned and they placed a hidden camera in the room after catching Aaron’s laptop under a box. After a few days of nobody showing up, Aaron then walks through the door. MIT caught him exchanging his hard drives out to continue and store more articles. Then with the evidence MIT and JSTOR showed the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Aaron was arrested.
Aaron Swartz’s case brought on a story about fate of intellectual freedom. In prosecuting Aaron, the government made no distinction between crimes committed for profit, and those brought out as a public service. Even though he failed to achieve his goal of making knowledge free, the American tradition of civil disobedience argues persuasively for the ethical distinctiveness of crimes committed as acts of dissidence against unjust laws. Aaron was arrested and charged with two counts of wire fraud, and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The prosecution gave Aaron a plea bargain of six months in federal prison and a few years of probation without access to a computer.
As Aaron grew, one could see him becoming more and more interested in politics. This was predictable because nobody with razor-sharp intelligence could look at neoliberal capitalism and not see the unfairness, hypocrisy, and inequality that lie beneath it. So Aaron morphed into the most technologically gifted political activist in history. He looked for instances of unfairness, and developed software to remedy it. Discovering that the provision of court transcripts in the United States was essentially a commercial racket, he teamed up with other activists to right a wrong; that the law was only readable by those with money.
To think a little deeper, the Government never gave him much of a chance to show what he was going to do with the files. They had just caught a couple legit hackers, and because he resembled one that they wanted to make an example out of him to hopefully stop people from hacking. His family and close friends stated that he was going to study the files, and then was going to find something out to make the world a better place. Francis Bacon stated it best that “knowledge is power.” Because he was smart and thinking outside of the box, the FBI felt he had too much power and was the odd guy trying to make the world a better place for free. So to make an example to the hackers, they chose Aaron to be that fall guy. Also, while he would have killed himself. Although unknown, some people think that someone went in early and killed him. Then, had time to set him up like he hung himself. With someone who had a lot going on in the world, I would see no motivation to want to kill one self. He was under pressure every time he jumped on the computer or left his house, but never enough to break him into suicide.

Bombardieri, Marcella (2014, March 30). Aaron Swartz and MIT: The inside story – The Boston Globe. Retrieved from

Schwartz, John (2013, January 12). Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide. Retrieved from

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