Far less noble crimes than what Aaron was trying to do though.
sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, a fine of $10,050
I dare to say Aaron might still be around if that was what he was facing too.
Probably. But, and this is a very big but: Aaron was encouraged by every victory (and the coverage of those victories) to shoot for an even bigger target.
In spite of being very sympathetic to Aaron, the goals he fought for and what he stood for, sooner or later that was going to lead to a confrontation. And he was encouraged by the public response to his deeds as well.
So even if everything in this particular case is as bad as it looks Aaron definitely was not one to say 'that one is in the bag' and call it quits. If he had stopped after the PACER incident it would have been a very worthy achievement. Serially taking on entrenched interests of this magnitude will sooner or later have consequences, it is as far as I can see unavoidable. The fact that he did that makes me admire him even more but I fear that for someone of his self evidenced emotional make-up this was not a long term sustainable recipe.
However, that the hammer was brought down so heavily tells me that on the part of the status quo there is a real weakness and a real fear that people might go in the directions he did.
Like the Boston Massacre, we will soon find ourselves in a propaganda battle. Ortiz' husband's mockery of Aaron Swartz's supporters, and her hardening of her stance (while parrying responsibility) is just the first step in circling the wagons.
Sen. John Cornyn is now asking questions of the Attorney General about all this, so now we know the people at the top have heard the call. Prepare for additions to this story.
Agreed. But you should never lift more than your back can handle.
> One can call it a perverse incentive, but to the point he had reached, the confrontation was way out of proportion to the acts.
We're fully in agreement here. But there are many examples of such extreme overreaches, recall the music sharing verdict and a bunch of other examples in the hacking / media sphere. This is not an isolated case at all. The differentiating factors are: (1) the defendant was for a change an exceptionally nice person, (2) the defendant knew a lot of people and was known by a lot of people and (3) he was clearly acting in what he thought was the best interest of all of us.
> You can call this unsustainable, but what other choice is there?
Unsustainable for Aaron in particular.
> "Welp, the interests of less-freedom don't want this, so I guess I shouldn't do it."
No, that's definitely not where I'm heading. I do want this and it is worth something, maybe even worth a lot.
> However, that the hammer was brought down so heavily tells me that on the part of the status quo there is a real weakness and a real fear that people might go in the directions he did.
Yes, I agree, and this overreach has exposed another weakness all by itself. A just justice system doesn't need scare tactics.
> Like the Boston Massacre, we will soon find ourselves in a propaganda battle. Ortiz' husband's mockery of Aaron Swartz's supporters, and her hardening of her stance (while parrying responsibility) is just the first step in circling the wagons.
Consider the battle joined. I will not forget about this and it will shape my actions for a long time to come.
> Sen. John Cornyn is now asking questions of the Attorney General about all this, so now we know the people at the top have heard the call. Prepare for additions to this story.
I guarantee it.
"Lifting more that your back can handle" is the very definition for fighting for freedom.
If everybody played it safe, and only went as far as they could comfortably tolerate, they would have been no freedom.
People are usually eager to cheer you on when they don't have to clean up the mess or suffer the downside.
That's not all RTM was facing.
"Morris pleaded not guilty on Aug. 2. He could face five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to make restitution to anyone adversely affected by the incident.".
"Under a second law being studied by Federal officials, the use of a Government computer to commit fraud is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison."
Or, y'know you could listen to charities who work with suicide and do what they request and avoid blaming a suicide on one external cause? Often it's more complicated than that.
And you know this how?
At the risk of boring people:
1) his lawyer and his closest family seem to agree that the lawsuit was the driving force
2) he did it on the anniversary of the start of the lawsuit
3) the actual trial was to start shortly
4) So far when under outside pressure he held up pretty good, but this was pressure far exceeding his previous exposure
If you wish to argue the lawsuit was not the reason you're going to have to come up with something better.
From timing it's likely that the lawsuit pressure was central in Aaron's reasoning. But in suicidal depression, accurate reasoning breaks down. Survivable, tolerable, and temporary things can seem permanent and intolerable. Without one apparent trigger (the prosecution), a depressive mind could latch instead onto other rationales... even rationales that seem to outsiders like personal triumphs. Inside the depressive mind those triumphs might not deliver the expected satisfaction, or may seem to represent a peak that can never be matched again and just wasn't enough.
I know it seems pat to say, "it was depression, period". There should be more consideration of the particulars than that. But it's equally pat to say, "a smart guy killed himself, he must have had logical reasons, let's rank all the potential logical reasons from public information, and conclude the top item on that list is 'the' reason". Without severe depression, all the publicly-known logical reasons aren't enough to explain this suicide.... but severe depression, or other stresses not publicly known, might explain it.
However other suicidal people reading us all saying "Oh it was definitely the trail, that's why he killed himself", they might just think that if there is a lot of external pressure they are justified in killing themselves. This might lead to people killing themselves. Please try to discourage that.
It's like security research. We follow Responsible Disclosure for vulnerablities where you don't tell the public first. When there is a big bug (e.g. the recent Ruby on Rails bug), we don't all post links to proofs of concepts. Why? Because doing these things tends to result in innocent people getting hurt. The same thinking should be at play with suicide.
It's not the only factor but as jlgreco said it's the "sack of bricks that broke the camels back"
Stop acting as if depression was logical.
And your argument is completely unrelated to what I was objecting to, which is the idea that admitting influences on suicide must be stopped because it's badthink and could cause more suicide.
And that's why suicide is indeed special here, but in a different sense: it's special because random careless talk on a forum can be such a trigger, or be the seed of a future trigger.
Of course one cannot be held accountable for such an event, but given it's simple and free to avoid simplifying the causes of suicide, why not avoid it?
It isn't free though. It's de facto censorship.
Aaron Swartz is dead. People want to know why. People want to make sure something like this doesn't happen again to someone else. To do that on a rational basis, you have to understand the cause. It appears quite likely that the cause, or at least a very large contributing factor, was this prosecution by the DoJ. What they did was unacceptable. If nothing is done they will do it again, and again, and again. How can we do anything about it if we can't even talk about it?
I get what you're trying to say. It isn't sensible to commit suicide just because you're in a bad place. But you're arguing like all people have to do is shut up and everything will be fine. Not talking about it doesn't get it fixed.
I'm arguing that mentioning the most logical trigger as a sure main/only cause for the suicide, besides being fallacious, can potentially cause more harm than good.
We sure must not accept what is regularly being done in prosecutions, but not because someone died, rather because it's a policy of terror instead of application of justice.
I understand. I just don't think it's that simple. A major part of making normal people understand the severity of this policy of terror is to understand what its victims feel. You can't just separate the two so easily and say "excessive prosecutions are bad, go fight them" -- to do that we still have to convince people why they're so bad, to make them understand what the victims of the justice system feel, and "they're so egregious they're capable of driving good people to suicide" is a very powerful fact if you can show it. It's the kind of thing that can make the difference in whether it gets fixed or not.
It'd be interesting to know how many people commit suicide on prosecution.
Yes, we should try to stop suicide. So why not listen to the professionals & experienced? Why not listen to what they say helps and hinders? The people who work full time trying to stop suicide tell us that this sort of 'blame one thing' hinders that goal!
Because general-purpose advice doesn't always fit specific circumstances. I look at it as taking the long view or the short view: If we talk about this now we may increase the risk of copycats in the short term, but fix it and indefinitely on from that point the justice system is no longer putting so much pressure on its victims that so many become a suicide risk, to say nothing of rectifying the real injustices against the accused who are only pushed up to the line but not over it. It's cold math but that's the way it is.
I think you will find that most people are aware of that. But it very well could have been the factor that drove him over the edge and you're going to have to allow for that.
Facing prison for even 6 months is reason enough to kill yourself. Facing that plus rapes/AIDS/beatings/overcrowding in prison, plus a large fine, plus multiple years of probation, all for a victimless crime, is even more reason to kill yourself.
Your comment strikes me as absolutely irresponsible and out of touch with reality. Prison is not a joke, but there's a reason the capital punishment is death.
Why increase the sentence on your own?
I'll ignore the strawman.
Anyway, the main point that has totally gone over your head, is that one should never, ever, encourage suicide. There are people out there with the right type of wrong mood that might get influenced by careless talk.
Before you tell me you don't care and it's not your responsibility, please think harder. Thanks.
> Anyway, the main point that has totally gone over your head, is that one should never, ever, encourage suicide.
I'm not encouraging suicide in general. I'm saying it can be a viable option, no depression necessary. By being realistic about suicide being a viable option we might better save people on the brink by better understanding their thinking, rather than assume that the choice of suicide is always bad and taboo to discuss.
Suicide can be an option without depression, but when you have the fire at your toes and it's either death in 30 seconds by fire or in 5 minutes by free fall (and even then it's arguable.)
It's certainly NOT a viable option when you are months or years away of the feared problems, and even LESS so when they are not life or death.
Suicide can be talked about but not like you stated it: "He had no choice, yeah, suicide made sense." Especially when you are not being realistic, you are blinded by a weird combination of prescience and intimate knowledge of the happenings inside of prisons.
Which leads to my final point (this is what led me to answer your nonsense for a final time): Going to jail IS an option, an option that millions go through every year. Some of them are rich white kids that continue their lives afterward. And I can tell for a fact not all of them are raped.
What's worse, burned alive or prison/huge fine/felony conviction/good chance of rapes/beatings/poverty/homelessness? For many people including me, either may be a fate worse then death.
His odds of being raped were over 20% according to studies. It's a safe bet that the young and handsome are more at risk.
I've said elsewhere I wish he had fled to another country. But I can see how being on the run, especially from the nearly worldwide reach of the US, could be a life too hard to bear for many people.
While I disagree that jail and the other hardships Aaron faced are a viable alternative to suicide, for me at least, I respect your opinion on that and understand that yours is the opinion of the vast majority.
To be objective, they also did things back when the damage you could do was fairly limited because of our lack of reliance on computer infrastructure.
The growth in punishment for computer crimes has grown with the importance of computers to modern society.
Compare that sort of "youthful indiscretion" to Aaron Swartz's far more selfless and far less damaging JSTOR hijinx.
On the flip side of this, consider that had Jobs and Woz never experimented with phone phreaking and never built those blue boxes they may never have had the guts to build Apple. Being a disruptor is about pushing limits, and sometimes the law runs right through those limits.
Believe it or not, the two senses of "hack" are also
connected. Ugly and imaginative solutions have something
in common: they both break the rules. And there is a
gradual continuum between rule breaking that's merely
ugly (using duct tape to attach something to your bike)
and rule breaking that is brilliantly imaginative
(discarding Euclidean space).
Hacking predates computers. When he was working on the
Manhattan Project, Richard Feynman used to amuse himself
by breaking into safes containing secret documents. This
tradition continues today. When we were in grad school, a
hacker friend of mine who spent too much time around MIT
had his own lock picking kit. (He now runs a hedge fund,
a not unrelated enterprise.)
Or more likely because the situation, context and Feynman's actions were highly dissimilar. If you haven't had a chance, take a look at the story in the original source, it's a lot more detailed than an aside in a PG essay.
Keys are able to open tumbler locks almost because of the imperfection of the lock itself, and lock picks just exploit that fact. I don't know - I think the whole concept is very beautiful.
As for usefulness, I've saved several friends a couple hundred dollars by opening their doors when they're locked out. :)
This is a hard problem to solve.
Woz, Gates, Jobs (and me too...) all profited from being born when this stuff was not as much on the political and social radar as it is today.
Curious what hn thinks of his case in the light of the current firestorm.
It's a fascinating story. I also like his father's (or maybe it was his?) idea for a spellchecker - using statistical analysis.
Back then there was an a hacker running amok on the Berkeley (yes, that Berkeley) network. Even when they managed to prove that the hacker was coming from overseas (definitely making it a Federal case) they were met with a big giant MEH from everyone they talked to. FBI didn't handle it. USSS didn't care. And on and on it went, until they managed to drag the government (and other parties besides) kicking and screaming into helping them out.
- child porn
- someone famous
- a large amount of money
>He released the worm from MIT to conceal the fact that it actually originated from Cornell.
Here's Eugene Spafford's write up:
> However. at a recent meeting, Professor Rick Rashid of Carnegie-Mellon
University was heard to claim that Robert T. Morris, the alleged author of the Wann, had
revealed the jingerd bug to system administmtivc staff at eMU well over a year ago.
Here's Seely's "Tour of the Worm"
> These notes describe how the design of TCP/IP and the 4.2BSD implementation allow users on untrusted and possibly very distant hosts to masquerade as users on trusted hosts. [Robert T. Morris, "A Weakness in the 4.2BSD Unix TCP/IP Software"]
Here's Mark W. Eichin's and Jon A. Rochlis' "With Microscope and Tweezers"
In 1988 his discovery of buffer overflow first brought the Internet to the attention of the general public.
the incredible level of trouble that I could have gotten into would have dwarfed my imagination. thankfully this was before anyone significantly cared.
I'm not even old. Then again, now there are tons of outlets to learn and play with things. breaking bbs's and other random things was a lot of my childhood simply because I lacked real outlets to learn. although a lot of that time seems wasted as being particularly good at taking efnet channels doesn't really translate into much but problem solving technique.
Graham also lists Morris as one of his personal heroes, saying "He's never wrong."
Some news here:
[i assume there's more technical details somewhere than given in that article - anyone have them?]