The Internet’s Own Boy


“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, our shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them to until we have succeeded, or we transgress them at once” written by Henry Thoreau. What Thoreau meant by this was are we going to sit around and let the government get away with unjust laws and decisions or are we going to take a stand against it. This is a perfect quote that sums up Aaron Swartz because it has everything to do with what he believed in.

From a young age Aaron was already smarter than most. At the age of 3 he was reading books and also that’s when computers got involved in his life. At the age of 12 he created a website called The Info which is similar to the platform wiki, which is a place where anyone can add and edit information. At age 14 he was apart of a project called RSS which got him noticed by a lot of people. In high school he thought that the teachers weren’t helpful and smart enough to help him so he dropped out. As he grew more opportunities came his way for he was a computer programmer everyone wanted.

Aaron always thought computers were magic. He wasn’t one of those programmers who did it for the money but he did it for the good. Aaron’s role model was Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web and instead of making profit from it he gave it away for free. Aaron admired that about him and felt that everything in society should be open for everyone.

In 2012, Two bills by the name of SOPA and PIPA were introduced. Aaron and three powerful groups of internet activist pushed hard to stop the bill and they succeeded. He was one of the spokespersons and he funded the groups that protested against these bills. Backing up In 2010, Swartz downloaded million of journals from JSTOR. JSTOR decided not to pursue a case against him and told the U.S Attorney office not to do so as well but they did anyway. The government found him as a threat and that’s when things went down hill. They wanted to make an example of Aaron Swartz for all the other computer programmers out there. Assistant U.S Attorneys of Carmen Ortiz searched all of his “internet crimes” or “computer frauds”and just built his up his charges, 13 exact.For 2 years straight Swartz was under pressure from the government and he just didn’t want to do it anymore so he committed suicide.

All the crime in the world and the government focuses on a person that intends to do no harm towards national security or to others but to help and educate them. Aaron’s death was a tragedy to all and the government literally caused this man to take his own life. Why couldn’t the government just sit down and talk to Swartz and be open about his policies ? Rather than letting their fears undermine their decisions. Was it right for Carmen Ortiz to still pursue the charges even though JSTOR told them to drop it? I believe if they gave Swartz a stern warning about his actions and the next time there was an infraction there will be a penalty, that would have set him straight.


Sarah Kelley




One comment

  1. I think your blog post does a great job of painting a picture of the situation that Aaron Swartz is in. Without a doubt I believe that JSTOR had the biggest claim to an argument with Aaron and even they didn’t go after him with full horns blasting. Since there were no similar cases in copyright history so how do we know how to punish such a big crime and I think the government didn’t really either.


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