AARON SWARTZ THE CHAMPION OF THE FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET – As Aaron Swartz is finally laid to rest, after taking his own life on Friday 11th January 2012, many online activists are spreading Aaron’s belief that the internet was designed for the flow of free information and not some government controlled gadget where the puppet masters control what you should know.
In the video above Aaron gives an account of how SOPA was initiated and passed through Congress in record time is the pursuit of controlling the information available to online users – or as Congress likes to spin it; the safety of copyright holder material.
During the Aaron’s funeral service his father and family members talked about Aaron’s drive and passion to prevent government control over what information we, the users, have access to and it was due to his high-profile online presence that the US Attorney’s Office persecuted him to such a ferocious degree that Aaron finally could take no more and in pursuit of peace, took his own life.
I cannot state this strongly enough… This is not simply about one young man’s life being tragically cut short, but the fact that billions of online users around the world have lost a true champion for the cause to freedom to information on the internet and what’s really disturbing is that there are undoubtedly those in Congress that are delighted Aaron is no longer around to fight for our cause, so that we may be enlightened by an information rich environment.
In my view MIT and the U.S Attorney’s Office should face charges for their clear role in Aaron’s death. Whether this is possible or probable is for the lawyers to decide but it is comforting that millions of web users are not going to let the memory of Aaron simply pass quietly into the night and many have vowed to continue in Aaron’s memory in the fight to allow the flow of information freely and the freedom of expression.
It is interesting to note, as I have done before, that how recently the case against Google, involving the manipulation of its search results in order to garner a clear competitive edge, by the Federal Trade Commission was simply dismissed with a promise, from Google, that it would change its ways to ensure greater competition. From the news reports I was astounded how Google managed to get away with such a high level of manipulation and walk away without even as much as a fine – maybe Google knows who’s pockets to line.
If we take the case of Aaron Swartz, who was being persecuted under SOPA for the downloading and publishing of over 4 million documents from MIT, how does Google managed to avoid prosecution? It does after all simply scrape information from other websites, often without permission, in order to fuel its search business and from this generate billions of dollars in revenue annually?
I honestly believe that the U.S Attorney’s Office and MIT could have handle this whole fiasco in a much easier way, simply by sitting down with Aaron and allowing him and MIT to discuss this is a reasonable way – maybe Aaron could have gotten MIT to see sense regarding the publication of the documents or at worse having to pay a small amount of compensation and removing the documents.
If you carefully listen to any of Aaron’s seminars on Freedom of Information you will not one definitive trend and that is of his belief that we could grow, as a species, by the communication of information and therefore it is my opinion that MIT and the U.S Attorney’s Office failed Aaron by not sitting down as mature adults and communicating the issues and in doing so come to an amicable agreement instead of the tragic loss of life in which resulted in their relentless persecution.