Today we remember the pioneering computer programmer and cyber activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life Friday at the age of 26. As a teenager, Swartz helped develop RSS, revolutionizing how people use the Internet, going on to co-own Reddit, now one of the world’s most popular sites. He was also a key architect of Creative Commons and an organizer of the grassroots movement to defeat the controversial House Internet censorship bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Swartz hanged himself just weeks before the start of a controversial trial. He was facing up to 35 years in prison for sneaking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading millions of articles provided by the subscription-based academic research service JSTOR. We hear Swartz in his own words and speak to Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, a longtime mentor and friend. "There are a thousand things we could have done, a thousand things we could have done, and we have to do, because Aaron Swartz is now an icon, an ideal," Lessig says. "He is what we will be fighting for, all of us, for the rest of our lives." Lessig also echoes the claims of Swartz’s parents that decisions made by prosecutors and MIT contributed to his death, saying: "This was somebody who was pushed to the edge by what I think of as a kind of bullying by our government." [includes rush transcript]
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So today we pull together some of the brightest minds at the Berkman Center to talk about Wikileaks, with Jonathan Zittrain and Lawrence Lessig moderating.
Zittrain, Lessig, and the Berkman Center Fellows explore many facets surrounding the Wikileaks imbroglio, including the values of transparency and freedom of speech; the legality and ethics of the Wikileaks data dump; the role of the news media; and the involvement of government and private tech organizations to take Wikileaks down.