Lauri Love is facing extradition, and potentially torture in U.S. prisons, if he is extradited from the U.K. for allegedly taking part in an Anonymous hacking operation in retaliation for the death of Aaron Swartz. On Wednesday, I appeared on Black Tower Radio to discuss the Love case, along with my coverage of the Green Party Convention and the need for electoral reform. I also briefly discussed an upcoming article for The Establishment about how veterans treat themselves with cannabis.
Tag: Aaron Swartz
At the beginning of 2013, the Internet lost one of its most radical, most pioneering minds when Aaron Swartz took his own life. In just 26 years, Swartz pioneered technologies like RSS syndication and the Creative Commons (both of which are in daily use here at Firedoglake), was a founder at Reddit, and led a successful fight against the destructive proposed Internet legislation SOPA. The Internet’s Own Boy, the new documentary from Brian Knappenberger (We Are Legion), is the story of his life and death.
Though dying by his own hand, in the incredible outpouring of grief that followed online and off, almost all blamed the government. They had good reason to do so. Swartz faced decades in prison under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Government prosecutors had literally told Swartz that they intended to “make an example of him” by forcing him to face maximum penalties if he fought in court. Believing himself innocent, he repeatedly refused deals that would have seen him pleading guilty to a felony and spending months in jail and longer without a computer.
Swartz’s “crime?” Downloading too many documents from JSTOR, a database of scientific and academic papers. Though most are paid for by tax dollars, JSTOR and other similar companies charge outlandish fees for access. Using a computer script and a laptop plugged directly into MIT’s network, Swartz had downloaded thousands of these documents. The Internet’s Own Boy sheds important new light on Swartz’s controversial activities and on the outlandish lengths the government went to prosecute him for them. No one knows what Swartz intended to do with the files, but the film reveals that he’d previously accessed other databases in order to do large scale statistical analysis. One likely theory is that Swartz planned to analyze the data to find links between polluters and the favorable academic research they sponsor.
His death radicalized thousands of computer geeks, launched a worldwide campaign to reform computer fraud laws and the department of justice, and inspired an upcoming national day of action.
We won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of the story. –Aaron Swartz on the battle against SOPA
On Friday night at South by Southwest Interactive, a panel of great minds — all of them touched in some way by Swartz — gathered to recount his legacy and look toward the future of his work. Organized by the Swartz-founded non-profit Demand Progress, the panel consisted of: