Aaron Swartz, a Highland Park native and activist for free content on the Internet, was found dead Friday in his Brooklyn apartment in an apparent suicide, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was 26.
Swartz helped create the RSS feed, which allows people to subscribe to information online, when he was just 14, according to an article in the New York Times. He also helped found Reddit, a social news website. He went on to become an activist for free online content, which landed him in trouble with the federal government in 2011 when he was indicted for gaining illegal access to a subscription-based service that distributes literary and scientific journals and then downloading nearly its entire library
CNN quoted a statement from Swartz's family that reads: "Aaron's insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable -- these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. ... We're grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world."
Though the charges against Swartz were pending and carried penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to the New York Times he also battled depression. His uncle told the Times that Swartz, “looked at the world, and had a certain logic in his brain, and the world didn’t necessarily fit in with that logic, and that was sometimes difficult.”
Swartz went to North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, according to the Chicago Tribune. As an adult, he founded Demand Progress, a group that lobbies for government reform and led a successful campaign against the 2011 Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which tried to limit access to sites that illegally shared information.
His funeral will be held Tuesday at Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, according to the Sun-Times. Details about the service will be provided on this rememberance page.
Tributes to him are already pouring into the page. Here's one example: "Aaron was steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. Selfless. Willing to cause change. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation. I am crushed by his loss, but will continue to be enlightened by his work and dedication."