Aaron Swartz’s Father Says Son Was ‘Killed By The Government’

Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz was “killed by the government,” his father told mourners Tuesday during his son’s funeral in suburban Chicago.

Swartz, who help create Reddit and RSS, the technology behind blogs, podcasts and other web-based subscription services, was found dead Friday in his New York apartment. He was facing federal charges that alleged he illegally gained access to millions of articles from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer archive.

He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” he said.

Swartz, 26, was facing charges that carried a maximum penalty of decades in prison. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz had no comment about Robert Swartz’s remarks, Ortiz spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said.

Swartz’s family also lashed out against prosecutors Saturday, saying the death was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.

Swartz’s case highlighted society’s uncertain, evolving view of how to treat people who break into computer systems and share data not to enrich themselves, but to make it available to others.

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, director of the Safra Center for Ethics where Swartz was once a fellow, both spoke at the funeral.

We felt the indictment was nonsense and that he would be acquitted,” Berners-Lee told the newspaper after the service.
10 Awful Crimes That Get You Less Prison Time Than What Aaron Swartz Faced

via Think Progress / By Ian Millhiser

The young hacker faced a harsher prison sentence than that for manslaughter, bank robbery, or selling slaves.

January 14, 2013  |    

On Friday, Internet pioneer and open information activist Aaron Swartz  took his own life at the age of 26. At the time of his death, Swartz was  under indictment for logging into JSTOR, a database of scholarly articles, and rapidly downloading those articles with the intent to make them public. If Swartz had lived to be convicted of the charges against him, he  faced 50 years or more in a federal prison.

To put these charges in perspective, here are ten examples of federal crimes that carry lesser prison sentences than Swartz’ alleged crime of downloading academic articles in an effort to make knowledge widely available to the public:

Read entire article…

Most of you wont care after a few months

No body get me wrong, spreading awareness of anything is not a bad thing, but all these people raging about this kony guy, are just annoying, they did the same shit for katrina, japan, and now this, but nobody post about our country’s problems except the ridiculous occupy bullshit, our country has sex slaves, children dying, homeless rate increasing, but i dont see anyone posting and ranting about that. yes spread awareness of this asshole leader, but get off the bandwagon of just him, look into other things that actually affect you. 

Don't believe me, when was the last time any of you looked into japan and how its still fucked and really, no one should even be living there. 

How many of you know the homeless rate in america, or the number of our children being abducted and forced into sex slavery.

Or the huge drug war just south of our borders that is growing more and more everyday.

Yes, Spread about Knoy, let people know, hes a monster and should be stopped, but spread about whats happening in your backyard too. 

Aaron Swartz’s Suspicious Death

by Stephen Lendman

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Media scoundrels stopped short of truth and full disclosure. The Wall Street Journal headlined “An Internet Activist Commits Suicide.”

New York’s medical examiner announced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”

Lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? He was one of the Internet generation’s best and brightest.

He advocated online freedom. Selflessly he sought a better open world. Information should be freely available, he believed. A legion of followers supported him globally.

Alive he symbolized a vital struggle to pursue. Death may elevate him to martyr status but removes a key figure important to keep alive.

The New York Times headlined “Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide.”

He was an Internet folk hero. He supported online freedom and copyright reform. He advocated free and open web files. He championed a vital cause. He worked tirelessly for what’s right.

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called him “steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation.”

Who’ll replace him now that he’s gone? He called locking up the public domain sinful. He selflessly strove to prevent it.

In July 2011, he was arrested. At the time, he was downloading old scholarly articles. He was charged with violating federal hacking laws. MIT gave him a guest account to do it.

He developed RSS and co-founded Reddit. It’s a social news site.

He was found dead weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial. He was targeted for doing the right thing. He didn’t steal or profit. He shared. His activism was more than words.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends online freedom, free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights. It “champion(s) the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.”

On January 12, it headlined “Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist.” It called him “a close friend and collaborator.” Tragedy ended his life.

Vital questions remain unanswered. Supporters demand answers. So do family members.They blame prosecutors for what happened. Their statement following his death said the following:

“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 US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

Swartz did as much or more than anyone to make the Internet a thriving open knowledge ecosystem. He strove to keep it that way. He challenged repressive Internet laws.

He founded Demand Progress. It “works to win progressive policy changes for ordinary people through organizing and grassroots lobbying,” he said.

It prioritizes “civil liberties, civil rights, and government reform.” It ran online campaigns for justice. It advocated in the public interest. It challenged policies harming it.

He mobilized over a million online activists. His other projects included RSS specification,, tor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere.

He launched Creative Commons. He co-founded Reddit. He and others made it successful. His Raw Thought blog discussed “politics and parody.” He had much to say worth hearing.

In 2011, he used the MIT campus network. He downloaded millions of journal articles. He used the JSTOR database. Authorities claimed he changed his laptop’s IP and Mac addresses. They said he did it to circumvent JSTOR/MIT blocks.

He was charged with “unauthorized (computer) access” under the Computer and Abuse Act. He did the equivalent of checking out too many library books at the same time.

Obama prosecutors claim doing so is criminal. They’ve waged war on Internet freedom. They want Net Neutrality and free expression abolished. They want fascist laws replacing them.

They usurped diktat power. They spurn rule of law principles and other democratic values. They enforce police state authority. They prioritize what no civil society should tolerate.

They claimed Aaron intended to distribute material on peer-to-peer networks. He never did. It hardly mattered. Documents he secured were returned. No harm. No foul. Federal authorities charged him anyway.

In July 2011, a Massachusetts grand jury indicted him. He was arraigned in Boston US District Court. He pled not guilty to all charges. He was freed on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

If convicted, he faced up to 35 years imprisonment and a $1 million dollar fine. He wanted scientific/scholarly articles liberated. They belong in the public domain. He wanted everyone given access. It’s their right, he believed.

He wanted a single giant dataset established. He did it before. He wasn’t charged. Why now?

“While his methods were provocative,” said EFF, his goal was “freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it.”

EFF calls it a cause everyone should support. Aaron was politically active. He fought for what’s right. Followers supported him globally.

In the “physical world,” at worst he’d have faced minor charges, said EFF. They’re “akin to trespassing as part of political protests.”

Doing it online changed things. He faced possible long-term incarceration. For years, EFF fought this type injustice.

Academic/political activist Lawrence Lessig called Aaron’s death just cause for reforming computer crime laws. Overzealous prosecutors are bullies. They overreach and cause harm.

EFF mourned his passing, saying:

“Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world.” Many others feel the same way.

Did Aaron take his own life or was he killed? Moti Nissani is Wayne State University Department of Biology Professor Emeritus. “Who Killed Aaron Swartz,” he asked?

He quoted Bob Marley saying: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” He listed reasons why Obama administration scoundrels wanted him dead.

His death “was preceded by a vicious, totally unjustified, campaign of surveillance, harassment, vilification, and intimidation.”

CIA/FBI/Mossad/MI5 assassins expertly “mak(e) murder look like suicide.” Numerous “enemies of the state” die under suspicious circumstances. Media scoundrels don’t explain.

US authorities “had excellent reasons to kill” Aaron. He was legendary in his own right like John Lennon, MLK, Malcolm X and others. He threatened status quo dominance. He denounced Obama’s kill list and anti-Iranian cyber attacks.

Powerful government and business figures deplored him. In 2009, FBI elements investigated him. Charges didn’t follow.

Despite extreme pressure, he pressed on. He defied prosecutorial authority. In October 2009, he posted his FBI file online. Doing do “probably signed his own lynch warrant,” said Nissani.

Two days before his death, JSTOR, his alleged victim, declined to press charges. It went further. It “announced that the archives of more than 1,200 of its journals would be available to the public free.”

Aaron had just cause to celebrate. “Are we to believe” he hanged himself instead?

Government officials and corporate bosses “had plenty of reasons” to want him dead. He challenged their totalitarian agenda. “He was creative, idealistic and unbendable.”

“He was young and admired by many.” Did “invisible government” elements kill him?

“They did so either indirectly through constant harassment….or, most likely, directly by hanging him and” blaming him for their crime.

“All this raises a dilemma for those of us possessing both conscience and a functioning brain.” How much longer will we stand by and do nothing?

How long will we tolerate what demands condemnation? When will we defend our own interests?

Freedom is too precious to lose. Preserving it depends on us. No one will do it for us. It’s not possible any other way. It never was. It never will be.

Aaron’s Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto

His own words say it best.

“Information is power,” he said. “But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”

“The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.”

“Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.”

“There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”

“But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.”

“That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them?”

“Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”

” ‘I agree,’ many say, but what can we do?’ The companies hold the copyrights. They make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal – there’s nothing we can do to stop them. But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.”

“Those with access to these resources – students, librarians, scientists – you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out.”

“But you need not – indeed, morally, you cannot – keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.”

“Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.”

“But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”

“Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it – their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.”

“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”

“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive.”

“We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerrilla Open Access.”

“With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”

Does Aaron’s manifesto sound like someone planning suicide?


HOLD. Despite a couple of these pictures being terrible representations of what they’re supposed to represent but it’s the idea that is important and it’s a side effect of the internet activist trend, the fact of the matter is this concerns people under the age of 25, most of which are on the internet and many of which would reblog this with a sense of righteousness but if they truly wanted to rid their world of this discrimination they would only have to eliminate when they exit cyberspace and enter back into their social circles and especially during school hours. 

On top of that, stereotypes are not bad, if it weren’t for them our species would not be where it is right now. They are all more than likely based in a good amount of reality. It’s the ignorant and derogatory use that is the issue.

To the folks I follow/follow me

Please, I urge you to research more into specific events before posting things on it with bare bones/skewed details that were FED to us by mainstream media. I understand it’s extremely easy to see injustice in any form and get angry, I’ve been guilty of that myself. With all of that said, PLEASE question EVERYTHING you read, there’s more than one side to a story and more than one way to skew the truth-sometimes it’s as simple as 1-2 choice adjectives or 5 seconds cut out of video footage.

HELL there’s probably a degree out there you can get in media/social media manipulation.

Sure, it’s awful to hear you’re killing people—but it’s way worse to keep on killing people! It may not be fun to get told you’re lazy, but it’s better to hear it now than to find out when you’re fired. If you want to work on getting better, you need to start by knowing where you are.
—  Aaron Schwartz, on Looking at yourself objectively 
The Internet’s Own Boy – A Moving Tribute to a Digital Activist

The Internet’s Own Boy – A Moving Tribute to a Digital Activist

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You would often hear programming prodigies claiming that their newly developed app is going to ‘make the world a better place’. Although we should commend these geeks’ and prodigies’ entrepreneurial and intellectual skills, we know that apps aren’t just going to make things better; it may give t…

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Movie Review: The Internet’s Own Boy - The story of Aaron Swartz

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Death is always painful, but its pains compounded considerably if its cause is suicide. When a suicide occurs, we aren’t just left with the loss of a person, but we’re also left with a legacy of anger, second-guessing, and fearful anxiety. Like in the case of the great Internet Activist Aaron Swartz. Aaron Hillel Swartz, an eclectic persona, was a self-taught programmer, Internet activist,

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I've been doing some thinking...

Since the internet is just a giant ocean of data, we swim around in it and bathe in knowledge and information. We fight battles in the name of social justice and freedom. We feel we are making a difference. 

But when we unplug, we start to realize that the “real world” is filled with people who do not spend all day on the internet. Therefore, they are not as exposed as we are to the new terminology, proper pronoun etiquette, and lingo of today’s online activists. They spend less time in it, and more time out in “the real world”.

That’s why it seems like so many people are ignorant of social justice issues–because they aren’t having discussions about it IRL. They are too busy having families and doing hobbies and going to school and working, etc. And being polite and agreeable in order to get along with their neighbors. 

Inside, you feel helpless against a world that looks horrible. You are constantly bombarded with information about the latest hateful thing that is happening in this world. So you turn inward. You develop your own personal identity. And you go online, and swim in the ecstasy of information. And you add to it, and you take it in. You don your armor of justice and you finally feel like you are making a difference. 

Meanwhile, change isn’t happening IRL. While we’re busy defining queer terminology and making pride flags, the outside world is dealing with discrimination, bullying, sexual abuse, racism, queerphobia, etc. 

I’m not saying online activism isn’t important. But IRL activism is the most important. 

The closer you get to unplugging, the closer you realize that the people IRL are ignorant, yes, but mostly harmless. They can be your allies, but you have to get to know them. And it’s not from behind a computer screen. They have to get to know you, too. The most fighting one can do is IRL. THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT  BE TELEVISED.

We need to get out there and be ACTIVE activists. I’m going to start doing that more. I’m not sure what is the future of this blog. But I might be taking a hiatus. Or I’m just really high and will regret it in the morning. Who knows. 

Only time will tell.
Digital Literacy in Vietnam, and Everywhere.

What gets your applaud: Is it a viral video, a cute cat meme, perhaps a fancy gif?

The wonder of the Internet makes it possible to connect with people, learn new ideas, explore the world in manners that would have been unimaginable before. 

You have, at your fingertips, boundless access to digital content millions in other countries don’t get. 

At the swift click of a button is the capability to share with friends; families; an endless community of digital neighbors your thoughts, your ideas, your voice. 

And that is worth spreading. 

Clap for Digital Literacy and Pledge to Foster Global Dialogue.

Aaron Swartz found dead in NYC...

Prominent American blogger and computer prodigy Aaron Swartz, who spoke against US President Barack Obama’s “kill list” and cyber attacks against Iran, has been found dead in New York.

Police found the body of the 26-year-old in his apartment in New York City borough of Brooklyn on Friday, said a spokeswoman for the city’s chief medical examiner.

Brooklyn’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging, but no further detail is available about the mysterious death.

Last year, Swartz openly criticized the US and the Israeli regime for launching joint cyber attacks against Iran.

The blogger was also vocal in criticizing Obama’s so-called kill list and other policies.

Obama has been reportedly approving the names put on the “kill lists” used in the targeted killing operations carried out by US assassination drones.

Every week or so, more than 100 members of the US national security team gather via secure video teleconference run by the Pentagon and go over the biographies of suspects in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, and “nominate” those who should be targeted in the attacks.

Obama is then provided with the identities of those put on the “kill list” and signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia as well as the risky strikes in Pakistan.

Swartz was also widely credited for co-authoring the specifications for the Web feed format RSS 1.0 (Rich Site Summary) which he worked on at age 14.

RSS is designed to deliver content from sites that change constantly, such as news pages, to users.

Swartz was critical of monopoly of information by corporate cartels and believed that information should be shared and available for the benefit of society.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves,” he wrote in an online “manifesto” in 2008.

Based on that belief, the computer prodigy founded the nonprofit group DemandProgress.

The group launched a successful campaign to block a 2011 bill that the US House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Had it been approved, the bill would have allowed court orders to restrain access to some websites considered to be involved in illegal sharing of intellectual property.

DemandProgress argued that the thwarted Stop Online Piracy Act would have broadly authorized the US government to censor and restrict legitimate Web communication.

Trouble in Bogota: How the Risks of Homemade Cannabis Remedies are Being Felt in Colombia

These days, it feels like everyone in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is talking about cannabis. 

The revolution has come to Latin America, and Colombia is now a hotbed of cannabis entrepreneurship. The country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a decree in December to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. After the decision, Colombian media coverage of medical cannabis surged, and seemingly everyone in Bogota began to talk about the companies producing homemade cannabis remedies to cure a long list of ailments. 

Amateur enthusiasts have jumped at the business opportunity, motivated in part by internet postings and activists like Canadian-in-exile Rick Simpson. Simpson, who spent three years in the Czech Republic after leaving Canada, has played a major role in the reintroduction of medicinal cannabis oil. Millions around the globe have watched his Run From the Cure documentary and learned to produce oil using simple kitchen tools and techniques.

Simpson has traveled all around the Czech Republic, giving lectures, helping patients and promoting homemade cannabis oil. His work tapped into an ancient culture: Before prohibition and communist rule, cannabis medicines were a traditional part of Czech folk medicine, practiced by female shamans. The availability of high-quality genetics, combined with the “Rick Simpson effect” resulted in a surge in the production of kitchen meds. Not just oil, but also creams and tinctures with cannabis soaked in Slivovitz, the national spirit, made of plums.  

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Colombia has witnessed a similar boom in homemade cannabis remedies since the presidential decree last December. Colombians are brewing their own home remedies and some have started underground medical cannabis companies in precarious kitchen labs. Since it is relatively easy to extract the essential oils from cannabis flowers, these amateur entrepreneurs feel confident about their preparations. 

But too often, they play doctor without considering the risks. Properly medicating people with serious health issues like epilepsy is not an easy task. Knowing the precise cannabinoid contents and proper ratios among the various active compounds is fundamental to achieve a desired effect. 

Cannabinoids affect each body and mind differently, and their benefits or uncomfortable psychoactive side effects, such as anxiety, are enhanced or diminished by the interaction between cannabinoids. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the antagonist of THC, meaning it can reduce some negative effects and it can extend the duration of the sought-after ones. It’s not hard to find THC in Colombia, and it’s very cheap, but CBD is lacking. Hobby chemists would need to import it, and it’s expensive. 

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The result: Many kitchen meds in Colombia are lacking this important cannabinoid. The knowledge and experience offered by trained medical personnel and physicians is required to treat patients properly and avoid complications. Too often hobbyists ignore drug interactions with other pharmaceuticals or simply ignore preexisting medical conditions. Such factors need to be evaluated for any serious treatment regime. Monitoring the efficacy of medical cannabis preparations in each case is an important step that should be carried out by doctors or properly trained caregivers. 

Homemade cannabis tinctures that are high in THC but lack CBD can lead to uncomfortable psychoactive effects and increased blood pressure. What’s more, even benign substances carry risks. Different kinds of vegetable oils, such as olive oil, used to prepare the medicines can lead to a high level of triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that increases the risk of heart disease.

Until now, the only way to obtain cannabinoids legally in Colombia is by growing them yourself in a garden of fewer than 20 plants. This home cultivation also allows for minimal contaminants on the flowers and therefore in the resulting medicine. In the optimal scenario, a home producer in Colombia can monitor the process to avoid pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers, and even poisonous substances that the plant absorbs from contaminated soils. 

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Nevertheless, it’s hard to produce a meaningful supply of medicine from just 20 plants. That’s why black market and illegally cultivated cannabis ends up being used to produce most of the homemade cannabis meds increasingly being used to treat the ill in Colombia. Patients are putting themselves at risk, as there are no tests nor controls over the “medicines,” nor are they certified by any health organization or tested by a serious laboratory.

While Colombia waits impatiently for much-needed regulation to bring safety, reliability, and validated methods to the local market, recreational users and self-made cannachemists will continue to make the most of their legal, 20-plant supplies. Yet those who need healing could become victims of fake products, similar to the snake oil peddling of unregulated CBD products that goes on every day in the United States. Risk from irresponsible or even dangerous advice abounds.

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