Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was a programming genius who formed many organizations and companies that would give access to free internet or at least help obtain that goal.  He was also a fellow at Harvard University’s Edward J. Safra Center for Ethics (Schwartz).  He was trying to make many Web files free and open to the public (Schwartz).  However, facing criminal charges of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines, Aaron Swartz supposedly committed suicide in 2013.  Swartz, an Internet Activist, was said to have stolen millions of documents from the company JSTOR. He believed that all information/files that was put up on the internet should be free to access for everyone (Schwartz).

The U.S. Intellectual Property law was set in place to protect the owners property.   “Rights and protections for owners of intellectual property are based on federal patent, trademark and copyright laws” (AIPLA).  For example, someone’s property might consist of a piece of writing, an artistic expression of some sort, and inventions.  What Swartz did ran into problems with the IP law.  Based on the law he would have had to ask permission from the owners of the files he wanted to publish on his free library site.   However, it would be problematic and a hassle to ask everyone to borrow or post something someone else had written or said.  In an interview with Swartz, he commented on how ridiculous and hard it would be to get permission when many people are dead.  He pointed out how you would have to pretty much ask permission for every word or phrase you want to use because someone else had come up with that word or phrase.  People would get nowhere if they followed the rules so literally.   The information posted on the web was put up so people could have access to it and Swartz and many others believe that you don’t need to pay for it.  It should be free public knowledge to all.

AIPLA. (n.d.). What is ip law?. Retrieved from http://www.aipla.org/about/iplaw/Pages/default.aspx

Schwartz, J. (2013, January 12). Internet activist, a creator of rss, is dead at 26, apparently a suicide. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/technology/aaron-swartz-internet-activist-dies-at-26.html?_r=0


Information and privacy

     Just how private are our social networks, emails, phone calls and other aspects of our life? In my opinion, any information that I give out or receive either via email, phone, letters, or with just talking to someone should be private.  The only way that that information can become public knowledge to the government or anyone else is if I give permission or willingly do so.  The government should not be tapping everyone’s phones to listen in on their conversations.  The only time that the government should do so is if they have gathered information on a person who could possibly be a threat to national security or if it involves some other kind of criminal act i.e. the police tapping phones of drug dealers. 

     However, anything that is posted on any kind of social network is fair game.  By creating a Facebook account, or Instagram, or a Twitter, you are putting yourself out there by agreeing to the terms and conditions of that network.  I don’t see a problem with either corporations or the government reviewing published information.  If I didn’t want the information to be seen or read I shouldn’t have put it up on any sort of social media that is viewed as a public network.  That isn’t to say, though, that they can just spy on people just because they wanted to.  They must have a legitimate reason for doing so.

Instagram vs. twitter

     Twitter can be a good source of news if you are someone who doesn’t like reading the newspaper or reading online articles.  Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. may be the only source of news for some people.  With Twitter news sources can tweet constant updates of what’s going on in the United States and in the world that way people can keep up with the news.  The only problem is you do not get the full story and you do not hear the other side of the news.

     Instagram wouldn’t be a good source of news.  People could post pictures of what’s going on in the news like protests, rallies, shootings etc. but with just pictures you cannot fully understand the story and what is going on.  Pictures are worth a thousand words but they can also be misconstrued.  However, if you search for hash tags related to current news stories you can see pictures and further your research on that topic to try to keep up with current news.