Published on Jan 14, 2013
DemocracyNow.org – Today we remember the pioneering computer programmer and cyberactivist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life Friday at the age of 26. As a teenager, Swartz helped develop RSS, revolutionizing how people use the internet, going on to co-own Reddit, now one of the world’s most popular sites. He was also a key architect of Creative Commons and an organizer of the grassroots movement to defeat the controversial House internet censorship bill, The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Senate bill, The PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
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Swartz hanged himself just weeks before the start of a controversial trial. He was facing up to 35 years in prison sneaking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading millions of articles provided by the subscription-based academic research service JSTOR. We hear Swartz in his own words and speak to Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, a longtime mentor and friend. “There are a thousand things we could have done, and we have to do because Aaron Swartz is now an icon, an ideal,” Lessig says. “He’s what we will be fighting for, all of us, for the rest of our lives.” Lessig also echoes the claims of Swartz’s parents that decisions made by prosecutors and MIT contributed to his death, saying: “This was somebody who was pushed to the edge by what I think of as kind of a bullying by our government.”