Aaron Swartz was the founder of the social news website, Reddit, and co-developed the RSS (Martinez, 2013). His life ended in tragedy when he committed suicide in his New York apartment earlier this year (Martinez, 2013). Although he was an internet icon, his life ended while he was being viewed in a negative light. His suicide came as he faced charges that he hacked into the archives of scholarly sources at MIT with the intentions of releasing the information for free (Secret Service had Reddit founder Aaron Swartz under surveillance before his suicide, 2013). Many of his supporters say that he died fighting for free speech and for making internet content free to the public. Swartz’s family and called his death “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.” The family called these charges “an exceptionally harsh array of charges (for) an alleged crime that had no victims” (Martinez, 2013). If anything, this case says that the criminal justice system is very serious about cracking down on illegal internet content as well as the illegal sharing of files. It seems odd that Swartz faced several decades of prison time for a crime like this. In comparison to crimes such as a robbery, this may result in a harsher sentencing. Although I am unsure if I agree or not with this harsh sentence, Swartz did break the law. Although this case will not stop all individuals from seeking to do similar acts, it will serve as a reminder of how severe the government is willing to punish individuals.
1) Secret Service had Reddit founder Aaron Swartz under surveillance before his suicide. ( 2013, August 13). Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk.\
2) Martinez, M. (2013, March 7). Internet prodigy, activist Aaron Swartz commits suicide. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com