Remember Aaron Swartz


Brian McConnell

I first met Aaron at Foo Camp. He was a teenager then, and even then, he stood out compared to the people there, people at the highest levels of the technology industry.

His death is deeply shameful, and should forever mark the careers of the people who bullied him into suicide. His crime was basically to photocopy obscure academic articles, not to make a profit, but to make the point that rent-seeking “publishers” shouldn’t be granted a monopoly to charge for access to other people’s research that the public has already paid for.

His passing should also be a warning to all of us that we now live in a security state where anybody can be targeted by an ambitious prosecutor, for any reason, or no reason at all, beyond his or her own advancement to higher power.

If you can be faced with 50 years in federal prison for “stealing” academic papers, you can be thrown in jail for anything. Nobody is safe.