Future Tense is a collaboration among ASU, Slate magazine and the New America Foundation that explores how emerging technologies affect policy and society.

Battle for Aaron Swartz’s Legacy Breaks Out at His Capitol Hill Memorial

By Andrea Peterson

Friends and supporters of Aaron Swartz gathered in the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room in Washington, D.C., last night to memorialize his life—and to urge reforms to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law Aaron was indicted for violating. Attendees at the event included journalists, policymakers, influential activists, and members of Congress, like Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who has used Reddit to gather input on an Aaron’s Law proposal. But even among those gathering to remember him, there was a clear dispute over what Swartz’s legacy should be, and how best to pursue it.

That dispute was most audible when open-access supporters repeatedly interrupted Berin Szoka. When the president of the libertarian-leaning organization Tech Freedom suggested Swartz’s actions deserved some measure of punishment, others shouted in protest, saying things like “information belongs to everyone.” Rather than make him a “martyr” to information freedom, Szoka argued, supporters should consider Swartz a victim of prosecutorial misconduct and outdated computer laws. The interruptions ceased only when Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, who was Aaron’s partner for the last 20 months of his life and one of the event’s organizers, yelled for their silence.

Szoka then pleaded that those in the room—who included journalists, policymakers,
Source: Future Tense Articles  

Leave a Reply