Feeds

back to article Anger grows over the death of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz's death has sent shockwaves through the internet community, but among the mourning and tributes there's a growing undercurrent of anger that an enormously gifted young man may have been hounded to his death. Aaron Swartz Swartz speaking against SOPA/PIPA last year Swartz, who helped write the RSS standard at the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

Oh, I can assure you she sleeps quite comfortably. She will have slept utmost well last night. After all, you don't get to be an effective US prosecutor by worrying over the occasional suicide of someone you're trying to thoroughly shaft for your own gain.

3
1
Boffin

A suicide is a terrible event and always tricky to attribute but not unlikely the pressure was mounting. I feel sorry for his family and friends.

But I'm not sure I understood the story completely. Aaron hacked into the MIT network by stuffing a laptop in a local closet, sneaking in ever so often to resupply the batteries and drives to download millions of items owned technically by publishers who restricted open access to MIT LAN (and elsewhere) only. Evasive maneuvers were performed by changing IP and MAC addresses on occasion by Aaron.

Then he was being accused of computer intrusion, fraud, and data theft. Which technically it was. He believed these materials should be not restricted at all or not to the sole benefit of publishers and he's free to believe so.

While I do agree with academic journals and articles needing to be more freely available, I also know it always was a very complex situation when it comes to the costs of running these journals and editing them to certain standards. Publishers always have been riding the fine line to providing them free to academics without giving them away to the whole world. Complex licensing schemes are in place throughout the educational world, meaning that many academics and students have free access through their library or department already. At least they should have.

It's always the same: one challenges the system and then it comes down on you with full force. I know of so many cases of a similar nature happening to less famous and inspiring people. But I have to say: he *did* hack (mildly) the MIT network and he *did* illegally download a lot of currently overpriced articles. In my opinion this was not the way to force the issue, it was playing with fire and when seeing someone get burned as a result people should perhaps think twice before submitting to all kinds of righteous anger.

And what about Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Jeramiah Perkins,dare I say...Bradley Manning, the difference is only where *you* believe some type information should be and how available it needs to be?

9
0
Thumb Down

Oh, come off it

>While I do agree with academic journals and articles needing to be more freely available, I also know it always was a very complex situation when it comes to the costs of running these journals and editing them to certain standards.

They don't, really. If you fancy a bit of reading, here's a very good blog post with links to other very good blog posts on this topic.

>Publishers always have been riding the fine line to providing them free to academics without giving them away to the whole world. Complex licensing schemes are in place throughout the educational world, meaning that many academics and students have free access through their library or department already. At least they should have.

The access is only free to the academics and the students. The libraries, on the other hand, pay through the nose, and are pressured to buy access huge bundles of journals they don't really want. All in all, the academic publishing industry is truly a nasty piece of work.

11
2
FAIL

Re: Oh, come off it

Forgot the link, of course.

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2012/04/11/a_new_journal_with_bonus_elsevierbashing.php

0
0

My righteous anger is reserved for the evil (sensu stricto) prosecutors who seemed determined to make an example of this guy, piling charge upon charge until the likely sentence was starting to push his life expectancy, in a case where the 'victim' *didn't feel it merited criminal prosecution at all*.

It was clearly personal; the prosecutors can therefore hardly be surprised when they face personal consequences in the fallout from this.

2
4
Stop

You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

"It was clearly personal; the prosecutors can therefore hardly be surprised when they face personal consequences in the fallout from this."

I never normally wish harm upon a person, but for Carmen and Steve, I wish them the worst. How about internet vigilantes such as Anonymous probe their lives and pasts with a microscope and turn over every dubious and illegal act they've done? Seems only fair to me.

Grudges aside, this is once again American criminal justice trying to secure a conviction through a plea bargaining. Over 90% of US criminal cases are settled as plea bargains, the system works like this:

1) Identify a first-time offence suspect or someone who is otherwise impressionable.

2) Invent extra charges, pile on the counts and push for the maximum sentence possible for each count. At this point the accused is facing jail terms running into decades.

3) Suddenly offer the defendant an easier way out: just plead guilty and have their sentence reduced to perhaps 2 years. Even an innocent defendant would seriously consider this option because the alternative is so horrific.

4) The defendant pleads guilty. Prosecution pat themselves on the back for the fact that they've "caught another criminal" while saving the courts some time. The person goes to jail for a tolerable period of time and forever more carries the label of "guilty".

I have no doubt that plea bargaining distorts the criminal justice system and pressures the innocent into pleading guilty. I think that whenever you see such large numbers of charges and lengthy potential jail terms it is because the prosecution are setting up the ideal conditions for a successful plea bargain. See the recent Chris Tappin case for another example. I honestly think plea bargaining should be outlawed because it is a form of coercion thus undermines a fundamental principle of law: objective judgement.

RIP Aaron. Having read the blog post from your defence lawyer, I can see how a defence case based on technical grounds (such as what constitutes "wire fraud") could carry a lot of weight here. The lack of computing knowledge by the prosecution seems breathtaking and it's a wonder they are allowed to prosecute on computing offences at all.

18
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

I agree with your explanation of how the us legal system works, except you left out the most important link in the chain. The Judge is supposed to serve the function of looking at the charges and throwing out the ones that are clearly not supported by evidence. But he is elected and sometimes have further political ambition so he does not want to be viewed as soft and more often than not neglect this function.

US from the rest of the works just never get this elected judge bit.

The whole system is fucked. This is truly a police state.

6
1
Anonymous Coward

@John Deeb

"I feel sorry for his family and friends."

Don't bother. It's their fault for not getting him the help he needed. But do note that no one is going to take the proper lesson from this: Depression needs to be treated.

4
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

"But he is elected and sometimes have further political ambition so he does not want to be viewed as soft and more often than not neglect this function."

Federal judges are not elected. They are appointed for life and are close to impossible to remove. What's "fucked" here is your lack of understanding of the country in which you claim to live.

1
4
Silver badge

Re: @John Deeb

AC: Depression often looks nothing like depression from the outside. In fact it can look completely the opposite. Real depression, the serious stuff (not the "oh my boyfriend dumped me and I got a C on my test I'm so depressed!!!" sort) often looks more like exhaustion, cynicism or even a strange sort of joy. When you're depressed you think you've finally discovered the truth about the world.

Blaming the family is not remotely constructive. They probably didn't even know.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: @John Deeb

When you're depressed you think you've finally discovered the truth about the world.

When one is depressed, there are periods of energy, but, where one truly does not give a toss - the behaviour looks courageous and assertive from the outside.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

As the poster I responded to did, I was commenting generally on the US Judicial System not on Federal Courts.

The US Justice System is divided into Federal and State Courts. Federal Judges preside over Federal Courts only. The vast majority of Americans PERSECUTED by this overreaching system are not PERSECUTED by federal courts but are instead screwed in the state courts by their Elected Judges and District attorneys.

All you have to do is listen to their Campaign Pitches and you realize that Justice is not their first priority.

0
1
Silver badge

@Graham Dawson Re: @John Deeb

"Depression often looks nothing like depression from the outside. In fact it can look completely the opposite. Blaming the family is not remotely constructive. They probably didn't even know."

Then neither did the prosecutors and therefore blaming *them* is also "not remotely constructive". So you could have made your observation much earlier in this thread, as a response to any one or more of many statements. Sadly you didn't.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

@Dredd

Not a system to defend in my opinion either.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: @Graham Dawson @John Deeb

That logic doesn't even remotely follow. Blaming the judicial system for being the causative agent of his depression is constructive in that it identifies the most likely source of his illness. His parents and his family were not acting in ways that could trigger depression; they were passive participants at best, and unaware of his mental state. The judges and the judicial system were active participants in the events and did not need to be aware of his mental state in order to cause it.

That's the difference.

That's why the judicial system can be asked to shoulder responsibility for the outcome.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: @Graham Dawson @John Deeb

"That logic doesn't even remotely follow. Blaming the judicial system for being the causative agent of his depression is constructive in that it identifies the most likely source of his illness. His parents and his family were not acting in ways that could trigger depression; they were passive participants at best, and unaware of his mental state. The judges and the judicial system were active participants in the events and did not need to be aware of his mental state in order to cause it."

Sorry but that's pure bullshit. As others have stated, he suffered from depression and made threats of suicide well before he got caught up in the legal ramifications of his own actions.

And it is certainly not the case that the the possibility of the onset of depression, or the actual onset of depression, should shield and free a person from having to answer for their actions in a court of law. Anyone who can not answer or can not be expected to be answerable for their actions needs to be isolated from society for both their own good and the good of society. Anyone not in actual custodial psychiatric care should be and needs to be held responsible and answerable for their actions.

As a sidenote: you have NO idea what the "causative agent of his depression" was. How do you know that it wasn't genetic? How do you know that it wasn't due to a poor diet? How do you know that it wasn't due to brain trauma? Or a botched delivery when he was born? Or a brain insult while in utero? Or that he grew up in a psychologically-harmful environment? Maybe he was abused or sexually abused as a child? How do YOU know how his family was acting towards him, or if it could have caused this episode? Maybe his family was angry with him for having gotten into this much trouble with the law for essentially trivial and idiotic reasons and juvenile actions? Maybe he had been depressed because he was fixated on some individual who did not reciprocate his feelings, or who rejected him? That you are going to determine what "the causative agent of his depression" was shows that you have a well-developed ability for projecting your ideology onto reality in the most ideologically-satisfying way - in spite of having no facts to support it.

Well, in short, your apologetics need some work.

1
1
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Graham Dawson Re: @Graham Dawson @John Deeb

".... Blaming the judicial system for being the causative agent of his depression is constructive in that it identifies the most likely source of his illness....." You seem to know nothing about depression and next to nothing about Aaron Swartz. His wasn't charged with anything to do with JSTOR until 2011 (he wasn't even charged for the PACER affair in 2009), yet openly spoke about his depression and suicidal thoughts in 2007:

"....I was miserable. I couldn't stand San Francisco. I couldn't stand office life. I couldn't stand Wired. I took a long Christmas vacation. I got sick. I thought of suicide....." (https://aaronsw.jottit.com/howtoget)

It seems your hatred of The Man is driving you to turn Aaron Swartz into some mythical martyr without actually knowing anything about him. Do you spend a lot of time jumping onto bandwagons, perchance?

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: You said it and F*** Plea Bargains

"As the poster I responded to did, I was commenting generally on the US Judicial System not on Federal Courts."

Since this was a FEDERAL case being overseen by FEDERAL prosecutors, who are APPOINTED and not elected, and since this would have been in front of a FEDERAL judge, APPOINTED FOR LIFE and can't be removed, just what the fuck does any other elected official in the whole country or the whole fucking world have to do with the matter?

Do try to stick to the fucking topic.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Great shame

Stories like Aaron's should be taught in schools and held up as an example of 1 person can make a difference.

RIP Amigo!

1
4
Silver badge

Re: Great shame

"Stories like Aaron's should be taught in schools and held up as an example of 1 person can make a difference."

The difference he made, is that he's dead at 26. Do you want all kids to be taught that they too can end up dead by suicide at 26 if they don't get their depression treated? Although, you know, that's not too bad an idea of what kind of examples to hold up to kids. Yet I have a feeling that that's not what you had in mind.

And frankly, it might be better if that lesson was exemplified by someone who did something with greater societal meaning than contributing to the RSS spec, and who wasn't thereafter primarily a Google tool, advocating the right of huge and obscenely wealthy corporations to expropriate the labor of huge numbers of creative and intellectual workers.

Couldn't we find, let's say, someone who was in the Peace Corps, who went to some grotesquely underdeveloped area and helped the impoverished people who live there to dig wells and so obtain clean water, but who, after coming home, became depressed and committed suicide?

That would be a much, much better story, don't you think?

1
1
Bronze badge

I think I'll pull out my "Enemy of the State" DVD and give it a watch this evening.

It's a shame Swartz didn't have Edward Lyle to help him arrange a little payback.

2
1
Bronze badge

My sympathy to his family and friends

I'd never heard of him but it turns out he was my hero.

3
3
Anonymous Coward

@I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

"I'd never heard of him but it turns out he was my hero."

Think of how comforting he finds that!

0
1
Silver badge
Pirate

Fair tribute

Free the data. All of it.

3
1
FAIL

Re: Fair tribute

Your bank account details, date of birth and mother's maiden name, please.

4
4
Anonymous Coward

You didn't mention Obama

Swartz was a big critic of Obama's kill list and other issues.

http://www.infowars.com/obamas-kill-list-critic-found-dead-in-new-york-city/

Obama is a good old style Chicago politician. You cross me and I crush you. A lot of his opponents have the money or political clout to protect themselves but Swartz did not. This was clearly a warning to other critics of Obama.

AC for obvious reasons.

4
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: You didn't mention Obama

I fear your not far off the mark.

Obama does not like to be criticised and has zero problems publicly threatening the US Supreme Court or skirting around how the Benghazi attack was clearly a terrorist attack. Word games and clear attempts to mislead the public by using a 5 show marketing campaign by his UN lackey on how it was a "spontaneous attack" due to some obscure video no one ever heard of before that day. It should have been an official presidential announcement regarding the attack, but Obama has control over the media and uses it to his full advantage. The media and Hollywood delusional actors swoon to Obama's every word. Obama takes care of his cult followers by sliding in tax credits for Hollywood like providing tax credits for the first 15 million in costs for making a movie.

This US President loves going on TV shows and loves playing the Hollywood star. He just fails miserably at doing the job he applied for and was elected to do.

0
1

Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

"With bail set at $100,000 and a court sentence due, the pressure on Swartz must have been intense."

...because he flagrantly and repeatedly broke the law.

No one wishes anyone to commit suicide, but in this case he was facing charges for breaking the law, and from the tone of the article its a pretty open and shut case. That isn't prosecutorial overreach - its plain old enforcing the law.

6
13
Silver badge

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

He broke the law by publishing the results of taxpayer funded research - written, edited and peer-reviewed by taxpayer paid researchers to the taxpayer.

7
2
Silver badge

Utterly wrong.

He was accused of those things.

He had not broken the law, as the case had not gone to trial.

- And quite possibly never would, as the alleged victim didn't want to press charges anyway.

Or would you be happy for us to post that you are a criminal if you are ever accused of anything?

The only reason that post isn't prejudicial or libellous is because the guy is dead.

5
1
Bronze badge

Re: Utterly wrong.

It is not uncommon that a victim may not want a trial pursued, but since the victim is not often the one pressing charges, he cannot drop them.

IMO and IANAL. EAA (Enough Abbreviations Already)

2
0
Holmes

Re: Utterly wrong.

Oh hadn't you heard? Ever since a few kids claimed a dead guy fiddled with them in the 70s, everyone dead is guilty by default now...

1
2

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

Not all research is taxpayer funded.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

No, not the research, but the publishers sell many journals to universities.

Costs aside, this has been an issue in scientific circles for while- there are so many journals that only the largest institutions can hope to subscribe to all the journals in one specific field, let alone most journals in most fields. In the last few years, neurologists are beginning to understand that the balance of gut bacteria can affect the behaviour of a patient, so would benefit from having access to journals outside their immediate ken.

Asimov wrote a short story in the 1950s about the trend of specialisation, called Sucker Bait:

"Like other short stories by Asimov such as The Dead Past and Profession, the theme of Sucker Bait is the peril of scientific over-specialization... ... Asimov would soon begin to practice what he preached, making himself into a professional generalist by writing popular science books on a number of different fields, as well as The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science, a general overview of science as a whole."

The protagonist of the story is a man with Asperger's-like characteristics, who acts unilaterally and against protocol to avoid a bad situation for all (another, unrelated, Asimov story had autistic people using robotic avatars to study Mars). His role in the story is similar to what IBM are striving for with Dr Watson.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

Which law did he break? Downloading those documents one at a time was completely legal. All he did was automate the process, which is also completely legal. He didn't even share them with others though that, too, would have been completely legal.

4
1
Boffin

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

If he was a MIT student or perhaps even staying on site as visitor it might have been (don't know the exact licensing terms). Download all you can while you are there. But since the prosecution wanted to make a case the *intent* was there to publicize them *and* the hidden laptop was avoiding detection by the local network administrator, the case is becoming quickly more complex, in legal terms at least. In my view Swartz should have done his activism together with some MIT students and in the course of one year at most he might have easily gotten everything out without risk of detection or interference. He seemed to have preferred to lone hacker route instead. But I can understand he might have thought the crime was relatively small and certainly the charges should have been dropped in a world populated with human beings.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

You really are naieve.

This man did not kill or put anyone's life at risk. He returned the data and the key organization dropped their charges, yet Obama's DOJ choose to pursue this man.

Take a look at cases where the DOJ and Obama choose to ignore US Laws. They pick and choose who to deport for illegally entering the US. They choose willfully ignore US Law to provide 90 notices to government contractors of possible layoffs in January. Obama's EPA withheld upcoming tougher EPA rules until after the election. There are mountains of example of the US President and his DOJ ignoring existing US laws and going after people who try to enforce US Laws or speak against bigger government. This president would love to toss out the US Constitution and become a king. He would then be free to continue his systematic destruction of the nation.

1
4
Anonymous Coward

@John Deeb

"But I can understand he might have thought the crime was relatively small and certainly the charges should have been dropped in a world populated with human beings."

Well it's populated with human beings but also with quite a few freetard parasites too. So what would happen in a world populated only by human beings is not terribly relevant.

0
1
Thumb Up

Re: Don't break the law and you wont be pressured surely?

If only there was some non-profit organisation run my universities to make a large range of journals available electronically. Of course it would cost a bit to run, but it would be worth it to make research easier.

0
0
Unhappy

RIP Aaron

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

― Chief Seattle

3
0
Thumb Up

Re: RIP Aaron

Now there's a name I haven't heard in a long time; almost before the current web, actually.

Fitting words & sentiment.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Bronze badge
Holmes

Be afraid, be very afraid

That's the lesson they want YOU to learn. The technology is against them, and information is going to become increasingly mobile, but they still have delusions of keeping their fingers in ALL of the dikes. Privacy is becoming an illusion, and no one can buy it any more. Perhaps the most extreme recent case was actually Mitt Romney and the 47% video, which may well have negated a billion dollars in advertising.

That's not to say it's going to be an easy ride. Don't forget that the House of Representatives (in America, lads), was just captured by the neo-GOP in spite of receiving a minority of the actual votes. The combination of aggressive gerrymandering and the higher effectiveness of the money in smaller districts resulted in the non-representative House, which is amusing insofar as the neo-GOP says they are the only true believers in the vision of the Founding Fathers. Oh wait. The FF wanted the House to be the part of the government that would be MOST responsive to the collective will of the voters.

For now, you may be on the winning side of history, but if you reveal things they don't like, you're a target. Truth is NOT the issue.

5
2
Anonymous Coward

Anger grows over the death of Aaron Swartz

What anger would that be then? I never heard of the dude before and I'm pretty sure most people haven't.... people kill themselves everday, I don't see many people who comment here about how sad it is becoming angry or giving a sh!t about them.

8
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: Anger grows over the death of Aaron Swartz

This is, however cold, the truth.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What anger would that be then?

"What anger would that be then? I never heard of the dude before and I'm pretty sure most people haven't.... people kill themselves everday, I don't see many people who comment here about how sad it is becoming angry or giving a sh!t about them."

Because this suicide is politically useful and makes for good publicity for the freetard/fascist agenda.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

"and co-founded Creative Commons"

Interesting.

1
0

"Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep." @timberners_lee

3
3
Silver badge

Dunno who downvoted Parax, but in a story about the reaction to an event, reposting the reaction of a well known internet figure is relevant, regardless of whether you agree or not with Tim Berners Lee.

Shooting the messenger?

3
0
Facepalm

Odd

Noticed you didn't upvote either?!

0
1

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.