January 21, 2013
Aaron Swartz , the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, was accused of breaking into MIT’s computer system in order to access academic articles and make them available for free on the Internet. He faced a 35-year prison sentence on federal data-theft charges and a fine of up to $1 million for illegally downloading articles from the subscription-based academic research service JSTOR.
Glenn Greenwald argues that the pursuit of Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide in New York at the age of 26 is part of the war over how the internet is used and who controls the information that flows on it. He says that Swartz's real crime in the eyes of the US government was:
challenging its authority and those of corporate factions to maintain a stranglehold on that information. In that above-referenced speech on SOPA, Swartz discussed the grave dangers to internet freedom and free expression and assembly posed by the government's efforts to control the internet with expansive interpretations of copyright law and other weapons to limit access to information.
The method used was unrestrained prosecutorial abuse. Greenwards adds that:
There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent.
As Danah Boyd says the federal government's agents used their power to silence him and publicly condemn him even before the trial even began.