Aaron Swartz, who co-founded Reddit and became an Internet folk hero for fighting to make online content free to the public, committed suicide Friday. He was 26.
Swartz hanged himself in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, said a statement released by his family and his girlfriend.
"Aaron's commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life," the statement said. "He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place."
On his blog, Swartz had written of his history of depression.
He was a Harvard University fellow studying ethics when he was charged in 2011 with stealing nearly 5 million articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He faced 13 felony charges, including wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer. Prosecutors said he intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites.
What a damn shame.
This amazing individual contributed a lot to fight against internet censorship and media freedom. I was simply boggled by the prosecutor's office stance in their accusations.
I don't believe the punishment in this case was at all appropriate. Sure, Aaron Swartz stole academic articles (and I've read some arguments that could claim otherwise), but with the intent to make millions of dollars? Stealing is ethically wrong, I won't argue against that; but fines, and decades in prison (if convicted guilty), are not an appropriate punishment.
I think the law committed an injustice when they labelled this man a "felon."