Last night a memorial service was held in Washington D.C for internet activist Aaron Swartz. The event brought out activists and politicians from both the left and right who committed to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in Aaron’s name – amendments that will become known as Aaron’s Law.
Aaron’s Law would decriminalize terms of service violations, shorten sentences for minor hacking offenses, and prevent prosecutions against people who were authorized to have access to information but used atypical ways to get access to it.
Besides announcing their support for Aaron’s Law many of the politicians including Congressman Grayson and Congressman Polis reflected on their personal interactions with Swartz who was an intern in Grayson’s office and worked with Polis on stopping SOPA. Grayson analogized Swartz to brilliant computer pioneer Alan Turing who was also unjustly prosecuted and driven to suicide.
Congressman Darryl Issa affirmed his commitment, as House Oversight Committee Chairman, to investigate the practices of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her office during the Swartz prosecution. He also boldly claimed “Access to information is a human right.”
But perhaps the most compelling remembrances came from Swartz’s father and partner. Swartz’s father noted that both Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg broke the law while finding their way to innovation, with minor consequences. Taren Stinebrikner-Kaufmann, Swartz’s partner, talked about the broken justice system that crushes people like Aaron. She detailed the incredible abuses of power perpetrated by Ortiz’s office and the pain and suffering that Swartz’s early death has had on her personally.
Demand Progress has started a campaign to build support for Aaron’s Law.
Photo from Twitter