Aaron Swartz by Maddy Birnbaum

Aaron Swartz by Maddy Birnbaum

Aaron Swartz was a computer programmer, writer, political organizer, and Internet activist.  He bridged the worlds of technology and activism. Some called him a teen programming prodigy. His focus was on sociology, civic awareness and activism. He helped to develop RSS, which allows users to self-syndicate information online, and at just 19 he was one of the builders of Reddit, the social news site.  This made him a millionaire.


He had become an advocate for a number of causes related to politics. He successfully led a campaign to prevent the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which effectively legalized censorship on the Internet. These are his positive contributions to the world of technology and activism.

It all went downhill when he got arrested for allegedly hacking the servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He stole millions of files from JSTOR, an online library of academic journals. Federal prosecutors charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was facing up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million in fines, plus forfeiture, restitution and supervised release.

On January 11th, almost exactly two years from the day he was arrested, Aaron Swartz ended his life by hanging himself in his Brooklyn apartment.

His girlfriend, Stinebrickner-Kauffman, doesn’t believe Aaron was depressed. She thinks the sole cause of his suicide was his criminal case. There is controversy over weather it is the criminal justice system’s fault for letting the case linger for two years and the decision that they made.

In my opinion he made great contributions and was extremely intelligent and advanced for his age.  With the right resources he probably could have done even more great things. There are very strict rules on what you can do on the Internet. He made a huge mistake breaking and entering onto the MIT database. I do not know what he used the articles for but it does not seem like he was trying to harm anyone. I think that the courts decision was harsh and there are many worse criminals. We are supposed to have the right to a speedy trial. The fact that the case had not been addressed in 2 years is absurd. I think that the criminal justice system is corrupt and if not the cause, it was definitely a contributor to Aaron Swartz’s death.

The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz by David Amsden

Aaron Swartz’s Girlfriend Explans ‘Why Aaron Died’ by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai


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