During internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz‘s funeral, his grieving father made a shocking declaration when he said that his son’s death was more than a suicide.
“He was killed by the government,” his father said during the service in suburban Chicago.
The programmer, who helped create Reddit and RSS (the technology behind blogs), was found dead last Friday of an apparent suicide. He was facing wire and computer fraud charges for allegedly illegally gaining access to articles from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) computer archive.
“MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” he father said.
Swartz’s family lashed out against prosecutors Saturday, saying the death was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
The case is bringing to light the evolving view of how to “punish” people who break into computer systems and share data, not to enrich themselves, but to make it available to others.
Swartz’s father’s theory comes at a time when rumors surrounding his death are swirling. There have been reports that the prosecuting attorney was overzealously pursuing the case and that MIT didn’t help Swartz in the case when they easily could have.
On Tuesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a piece of legislation that would modify the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to exclude terms of service violation.
She is calling it “Aaron’s Law.”
“There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced,” Lofgren wrote. “The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute.”
Whoa. Do you think the government led Swartz to commit suicide?