Was the late net activist Aaron Swartz driven to commit suicide by an overzealous federal investigation? Charged with 13 felonies and facing 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines after being caught downloading over 4 million academic articles paywalled by JSTOR, some are now questioning whether the federal government is complicit in his passing.
Parker Higgins of the Electronic Frontier Foundation talks with ReasonTV about Swartz and the JSTOR case: “The idea that an agent of the federal government would be able to pick out a person and threaten to ruin their life is not the kind of thing that we hope for in a justice system.”
Watch Reason TV’s interview with Parker Higgins after the jump.
Update: Here is a final (for a while, at least) piece about Aaron Swartz by Lawrence Lessig. It’s deeply felt and incredibly moving, as everything he’s written about Aaron in the past week has been:
A week ago today, Aaron gave up. And since I received the call late Friday night telling me that, like so many others who were close to him, I have not rested. Not slept, really. Not connected with my kids, at all. Not held my wife except to comfort her tears, or for her to comfort mine.
Instead of rest, I have been frantically trying to explain, to connect, and to make sense of all of this. Endless emails responding to incredible kindness, phone call after phone call with reporters and friends, and the only solace I know: writing.
But none of that has made this better. Indeed, with every exchange, it only gets worse. I understand it less. I am angry more. I think of yet another, “If only I had …”
I need to step back from this for now. I am grateful for your kind emails. I am sorry if I can’t answer them. To the scores of people who write to tell me they were wronged by US Attorney Ortiz, I am sorry, that is not my fight. To the press — especially the press wanting “just five minutes” — I apologize. This isn’t a “just five minutes” story, at least from me.
There have been a handful of smiles this past week. My three year old, Tess, putting her arms around my neck, holding me as tight as she possibly could, promising me “the doctors will put him back together, papa, they will.” A screenwriter friend, grabbing me after a talk in New York, and pulling me into an argument about his next great film. And best of all, the astonishingly beautiful letter from MIT’s president, acknowledging — amazingly — at least the possibility of responsibility, and appointing the very best soul on that side of Cambridge to review and guide that great if flawed institution’s review.
But these smiles have been drowned by endless sadness, and even greater disappointment — and none more pronounced than the utterly profound disappointment in our government, Carmen Ortiz in particular.
It doesn’t end there, and is well worth reading in its entirety.