BY LAUREN LANDRY
January 11, 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s death. The Reddit co-founder took his life at age 26, at a time he was ensnared in a legal battle that could have cost him $1 million and up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Swartz was arrested in 2011 after he broke into an MIT wiring closet and downloaded thousands of articles from online scholarly database JSTOR. He was charged with 13 counts of felony, and was forced to contend with a “persecution and a prosecution that had already wound on for two years … and had already drained all of his financial resources.”
MIT came under scrutiny following Swartz’s suicide. The Internet activist’s father claimed his son was “killed by the government” and that “MIT betrayed all of its basic principles.” An internal investigation found there was “no wrongdoing” on the school’s behalf, but several, Swartz’s father included, didn’t agree. Fifteen MIT subdomains were hacked last week to commemorate Swartz.
Brian Knappenberger, the director of We are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists, raised nearly $94,000 via Kickstarter to produce The Internet’s Own Boy, a film following the story of the “programming prodigy and information activist.” After debuting in theaters in June, it’s now available to watch online.
“Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity,” reads the film’s website. “This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.”
Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig was interviewed for the film, and published a blog post Sunday addressing Swartz’s loss, saying he is “more hopeful today than a year ago.”