Aaron H. Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer, and Internet activist.

Swartz was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS,[2] the Creative Commons organization, the website framework,[3] and the social news site Reddit, in which he was an equal partner after a merger with his Infogami company.[i] Swartz also focused on sociology, civic awareness, and activism.[4][5] In 2010 he became a research fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig.[6][7] He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act, and later worked with the activist groups Rootstrikers and Avaaz. He also was a contributing editor to The Baffler.[8]

On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by a federal special agent on state breaking-and-entering charges in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR.[9][10][11][12] Federal prosecutors eventually charged him with 2 counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,[13] carrying a maximum penalty of up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine plus forfeiture, restitution, and supervised release.[14]

After facing charges for two years, on January 11, 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment where he had hanged himself.[15][16][17]

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