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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2014: The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Internets_Own_Boy

The opening film of Hot Docs 2014 tells the story of Aaron Swartz.  Swartz began as a programmer at a very young age and he helped co-found the website reddit.  He then focused himself on helping bring public access to the public domain, which got Swartz into trouble. He was arrested for using the servers at MIT to mass download research papers from the online library JSTOR.  Facing 35 years in prison, Swartz was tragically found dead in his apartment at the age of 26.  The Internet’s Own Boy takes a look at Swartz’s life and asks the question why the government thought that he should be made an example, in their fight against online terrorism.

The tragic story of Aaron Swatz is the latest example of an old world that is afraid of new technology. It is absurd to think that the US government would seek criminal prosecution, just because Swartz downloaded a bunch of files.  There was no proof that Swartz was going to do anything illegal with them and he instead found himself turned into a scapegoat, in the government’s larger fight against cyber terrorism.  It’s equally ridiculous, and sad, that many of Swartz’s charges came from a grossly out-dated 1986 act, inspired by the film WarGames.

Even though the charges eventually pushed Swartz to suicide, he did have at least one victory, when he helped put an end to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act.  In addition, Swartz’s tragic story is helping pave the way for updated computer laws.  All together, The Internet’s Own Boy is a quite interesting and sad story about a man who had so much promise in the world of new technology, but ended up being a victim of the out-dated views of the old world.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Screenings:

  • Thurs, April 24, 10:00 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (Opening Night)
  • Fri, April 25, 2:00 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
  • Wed, April 30, 6:30 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (Scotiabank Big Ideas)

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).