Aaron Swarth, the internet activist and co-founder of Reditt committed suicide by hanging himself on 11 January 2013. The 26 years old computer genius was the developer of the early version of the RSS (Rich Site Summary) – web feed system was facing federal criminal charges in cases of a controversial fraud and hacking allegations.
He was largely credited as the co-author of the specifications of the RSS 1.0 web feed format at the age of 14. RSS feed generally is a format that supports the users to find out content from the sites, where updates keeps on changing regularly like a news website or a blog.
Swartz made 19 million pages of federal court documents from the PACER case-law system freely available to the public and many more things. His belief on the fact that Information is power and it should be shared and made available to people for the good of the society helped him to form a nonprofit group, Demand Process. This nonprofit group took on a successful campaign helped get the Stop Online Piracy Act – the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in the year 2011. The Bill of Stop Online Piracy Act would have curbed the access of certain websites engaged in illegal sharing of the intellectual property via court orders.
In July 2011, he faced troubles after being indicted for a wire fraud, computer fraud and other related charges of stealing millions of academic articles and journals by a federal grand jury. He was accused for stealing all the journals and four million articles from the digital archive JSTOR (an online archive and journal distribution service) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To steal those, he used MIT’s Computer Network. He was a fellow at the Harvard University's Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics.
In case Swartz conviction was proved in the court of law, he would have faced a 1 million dollar fine along with 35 years in prison.