Home > Censorship, Government, Protest, Surveillance > Aaron Swartz, internet activist and builder of Reddit, dies at 26.

Aaron Swartz, internet activist and builder of Reddit, dies at 26.

By and   guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12th January 2013.  Find Article Here:-

Aaron Swartz in Miami Beach, Fla.

Aaron Swartz pictured in Miami Beach, Florida in 2009. Photograph: Michael Francis Mcelroy/New York Times / Redux / eyevine

Aaron Swartz, a celebrated computer activist and builder of the popular internet community website Reddit, has died. It is believed that the 26-year-old killed himself in New York City on Friday.

A committed advocate for the freedom of information over the internet, Swartz had been facing a trial over allegations of hacking related to the downloading of millions of documents from the online research group JSTOR. Swartz pleaded not guilty last year; if convicted, he could have faced a lengthy prison term.

The MIT university newspaper The Tech received an email from Swartz’s lawyer, Elliot R Peters, which confirmed the news. The newspaper reported the email as saying: “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true.”

Swartz dedicated much of his time to fighting internet censorship and his court case had become a cause célèbre for many similar-minded figures. A social-justice lawyer, Bettina Neuefeind, had established a website to raise money for his defence.

The organisation Demand Progress, which Swartz helped to found, had compared the activities of which he was accused to “trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library”.

David Moon, programme director at Demand Progress, told the Guardian that he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of his colleague’s death.

He added that the organisation would pay “proper homage to Aaron at the appropriate time” but for the time being it was “simply spending the moment reflecting on his life and work”.

As news of Swartz’s death spread online, numerous tributes were posted. The author and web expert Cory Doctorow, who was a friend of Swartz, posted a tribute on the website Boing Boing. Doctorow wrote that Swartz may have been afraid of the idea of imprisonment but that he had also suffered with bouts of depression. He also paid tribute to the young activist’s achievements and dedication to his causes. “We have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it,” he wrote.

Swartz regularly blogged about his own life on the website aaronsw.com. In a post written in January 2007, he discussed the nature of suicide.

“There is a moment, immediately before life becomes no longer worth living, when the world appears to slow down and all its myriad details suddenly become brightly, achingly apparent,” he wrote.

From software to social justice

While he was to go on to become a standard-bearer for internet freedom and activism, Aaron Swartz’s most lauded achievement dates back to his days as a 14-year-old programmer, when he helped develop the code behind RSS, the tool used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video.

Born in Chicago, his father ran a software company and Swartz is credited with creating his first web application at 13. He attended Stanford but left after one year and founded a software company that merged in 2005 with the social news and entertainment site Reddit.

From 2010 to 2011 he was a fellow at Harvard University and also worked at MIT with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. By now he was moving into activism for open data and government, and was a co-founder of Demand Progress, which promotes online campaigns on social justice issues. Ben Quinn

SEE ALSO  Aaoron Swartz Obituary

Aaron Swartz’s Family Condemns MIT and US Government After His Death

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