Death of American internet activist stirs controversy
Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:49AM
American Internet genius Aaron Swartz is found hanged in his New York apartment, reportedly by his own hand. Swartz's family and friends blame the U-S government for his death. The government was pursuing criminal prosecution against Swartz.Aaron Swartz' level of intelligence is rare for any nation in any age. The internet wunderkind founded the internet subscription standard RSS at the tender age of fourteen -- cofounded Reddit.com -- and helped to defeat multiple bills that many believe would have greatly cramped and constricted internet usage. Swartz once said his social awareness developed through questioning the US education system. Swartz' family and his girlfriend are now questioning whether he had to die. The family fired a statement at the US government saying that Aaron's death "is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.” The government had hit Swartz with wire and computer fraud charges after Swartz allegedly downloaded more than four million files from JSTOR -- an online academic information archive -- all of which were in the public domain. JSTOR settled its issues with Swartz but the government refused to -- pursuing what the family called harsh charges -- threatening decades in prison over a crime with no victims. The family also slammed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- where the download occurred -- for going along -- and not standing up for its own principles. Now the family could not be reached for comment but acknowledges that Swartz' death was a suicide. Others -- apparently -- aren't so sure -- with some saying that Swartz was a target in much the same way that Julian Assange of Wikileaks is. Internet show hosts such as Alex Jones are pointing out that Swartz' work had drawn from places such as the Secret Service. Jones says that the Presidential protection agency took over Swartz' case two days before Swartz died -- pointing out that such involvement falls well outside the Secret Service's mandate. Swartz works revolved around social justice -- and he'd made enemies on Capitol Hill by successfully opposing -- and defeating -- wrongheaded Congressional efforts to control the internet. Last year -- he opposed President Obama's drone "kill-list" -- laying it out clearly on Russian television. The US government dropped the fraud charges against Swartz after his death was announced. MIT has announced that it will do an internal investigation as to why the school -- and the government -- continued with its prosecution -- and whether the measures taken by both were warranted. Swartz was 26 years old.