Aaron Swartz was a programmer, writer, and involved in activism that helped shape the Internet. A few of his major contributions he’s made to the technology world are, but not limited to, the invention of RSS feeds, the conceptualization of the Creative Commons, and his involvement in the popular social news site Reddit.
Once he had these major accomplishments under his belt, he became heavily involved in activism creating political watchdog websites and did everything he could to leverage the power of the Internet to promote positive change in the political sphere with intentions to get progressive politicians elected.
Then, something terrible happened that rocked Aaron’s world. He was arrested by the MIT police on charges of breaking and entering after downloading academic journals from the JSTOR digital library. Facing $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, Aaron refused a plea bargain deal where he would have to serve 6 months in federal prison. After having his counter-offer refused, Aaron was found hanging dead in his Brooklyn apartment, taking his own life at the age of 26.
The Internet’s Own Boy is a powerful homage to Aaron Swartz. Its debut at Sundance received a standing ovation. Mashable printed, “With the help of experts, The Internet’s Own Boy makes a clear argument: Swartz unjustly became a victim of the rights and freedoms for which he stood.”
This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.