Online activist Aaron Swartz (26) was found dead by his uncle on the morning of Jan. 11. News of the young man’s reported suicide broke on the internet as of Saturday, Jan. 12 according to reports from CNN.
The Reddit co-founder was involved in a legal dispute to fight censorship on the internet. Sources cite different possible reasons for his alleged suicide include a history of depression and ongoing bullying Swartz was receiving from prosecuting attorneys in legal dispute over academic journal articles he allegedly harvested from JSTOR through the MIT network.
A statement from Swartz’ family reveals they were shocked to learn of his death. In a statement the explain:
"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,"
In an MIT “The Tech” article, Aaron Swartz and his professional background are highlighted:
"The accomplished Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification at age 14, founded Infogami which later merged with the popular social news site reddit, and completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA.”
Family and friends of Aaron Swartz close their statement on their son’s death:
“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.”
Sources: MIT “The Tech”, CNN, Wired.com
The Swartz family mentions there were no victims in the alleged crimes committed by their son Aaron. What are your thoughts on the matter? Was there a victim? Was Aaron, a gift computer programmer, the victim in this situation?
What do you think fueled Aaron Swartz to take his own life on the morning of Jan. 11? What can future internet activists stand to learn from his many accomplishments as an online voice in the world against censorship in the internet?