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Facing federal charges, Internet innovator and activist Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Juan Carlos Perez | Jan. 14, 2013
Aaron Swartz, the brilliant Internet pioneer, passionate political activist and computer programming prodigy, committed suicide on Friday as he faced hacking-related charges that could have landed him in jail for decades, according to published reports.

In his personal site, Swartz featured a short biographical sketch in which he highlighted several of his current and past projects, including his founding of Demand Progress, which advocated against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) bills out of concern they'd give the U.S. government power to engage in Internet censorship. The bio also mentions Swartz's work with Web creator Tim Berners-Lee at MIT, and the fact that he co-authored the RSS 1.0 specification.

Novelist, journalist and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow, another friend of Swartz's, posted a tribute to him in which he also questioned the wisdom of the prosecution. Doctorow also brought up Swartz's bouts with depression, which Swartz had publicly discussed.

"We have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it," Doctorow wrote.

 

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