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Aaron Swartz

American computer programmer and writer

Died when: 26 years 64 days (314 months)
Star Sign: Scorpio


Aaron Swartz

Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist.A prolific programmer, Swartz helped develop the web feed format RSS, the technical architecture for Creative Commons–an organization dedicated to creating copyright licenses, the website framework web.py, and Markdown, a lightweight markup language format.

Swartz was involved in the development of the social news aggregation website Reddit until his departure from the company in 2007.

He is often credited as a martyr and a prodigy, and his work focused on civic awareness and activism.After Reddit was sold to Condé Nast Publications in 2006, Swartz became more involved in activism, helping launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009.

In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University's Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig.He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after connecting a computer to the MIT network in an unmarked and unlocked closet, and setting it to download academic journal articles systematically from JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT.

Federal prosecutors, led by Carmen Ortiz, later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised release.

Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison.Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment.

In 2013, Swartz was inducted posthumously into the Internet Hall of Fame.

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