Aaron Swartz, “an extraordinary hacker and activist” (as called by the EFF) who helped/worked on RSS specifications, web.py, tor2web, the Open Library, the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere, Creative Commons, Reddit and Demand Progress decided to end his life yesterday, under the burden of a possible 35 year imprisonment for the alleged “crime” of “unauthorized access” to computers.
Specifically, Aaron used the MIT campus network to download millions of journal articles from the JSTOR database, and then attempted to release them so that anyone could read them, or analyse them as a single giant dataset.
Among others, he should be remembered for the wise questions proposed during the F2C2012 keynote relating SOPA:
“Is sharing a video on bittorrent like shoplifting from a movie store or is it like loaning a video tape to a friend?
Is reloading a webpage over and over again like a peaceful virtual sit-in or a violent smashing of shop windows?
Is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder?”
Source: Aaron Swartz, F2C2012 keynote (YouTube video)