Movie about MIT hacktivist Aaron Swartz in the works

Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz (Daniel J. Sieradski/dpa/Corbis/file)

A movie is in the works about Aaron Swartz, a brilliant programmer and “hacktivist” who committed suicide at 26 while under federal indictment for alleged computer crimes.

Deadline reports that HBO Films is developing “Think Aaron,” based on the tragic story of Swartz, a child prodigy and programming genius whose Internet activism on behalf of open and equal access to educational information landed him in court, facing the prospect of spending 35 years in prison. (Swartz was also the subject of a documentary titled “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.”)


Director Elliott Lester, who was behind the camera on HBO Films’s Emmy-nominated “Nightingale,” is on board to direct.

Swartz was arrested by MIT police in 2011 for allegedly connecting a computer to the MIT network and setting it to download academic articles from digital library JSTOR using an account issued to him by MIT. Though it was viewed as an act of civil disobedience, Swartz’s theft of 4.8 million articles resulted in his arrest on two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

He was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn in 2013.