Internet activist, a creator of RSS, is dead at 26, apparently a suicide

January 15, 2013

Aaron Swartz in 2012 protesting against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (credit: Daniel J. Sieradski/Wikimedia Commons)

Aaron Swartz, a wizardly programmer who as a teenager helped develop code that delivered ever-changing Web content to users and who later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available, was found dead on Friday in his New York apartment, The New York Times reports.

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public.

But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.

Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. …


RIP, Aaron Swartz by Cory Doctorow

Github repository for Aaron Swartz memorials