Letter: Aaron Swartz Death A National Tragedy

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Aaron Swartz Photo Credit: Fred Benenson via Wikepedia Commons

YONKERS, N.Y. – The Yonkers Daily Voice welcomes signed, original letters from its readers. They may be emailed to yonkers@dailyvoice.com.

Justice for Aaron Swartz

The recent death of computer programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz is a national tragedy. Aaron killed himself on January 11, 2013, after being charged with up to fifty years in prison for a peaceful act of civil disobedience. The harassment and persecution he endured from the prosecution that drove him to his death is a shameful commentary on the state of our criminal justice system.

Swartz's "crime" was to download a large number of articles from a scholarly database at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the hopes of making them eventually available to those unable to afford access to this material, much of it taxpayer-funded and already in the public domain.

Because Swartz downloaded more articles than the service agreement allowed, he was charged with computer fraud and hacking. His actions are regularly performed by scholars across the United States, and it is clear that the reason why he was singled out for punishment was his prior work to keep the Internet free and to promote transparency in government.

I urge Yonkers residents to request Representative Eliot Engel to join with Representative Zoe Lofgren in calling for the passage of Aaron’s Law, which will reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that currently empowers the U.S. government to prosecute its citizens indiscriminately for harmless acts we perform everyday, and to add his voice to Senator John Cornyn’s call for an internal inquiry into the FBI’s involvement in Aaron’s persecution.   

I also urge the Yonkers community to sign the petitions calling for the removal of Swartz’s prosecutors:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb



Rebecca Gould

McLean Avenue, Yonkers

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