Dec 11, 2013
Anonymous Honors Aaron Swartz by Hacking MIT
Posted on Jan 14, 2013
Anonymous added its own to the growing number of online memorials to Aaron Swartz, who reportedly hanged himself in his New York apartment Friday, by briefly taking over the website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to eulogize the Internet activist. In its tribute to Swartz posted on MIT’s site, the hacktivist collective said it wanted to use “this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.”
Swartz, the 26-year-old prodigy who helped create RSS, co-founded Reddit and was instrumental in quashing the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act bill, was being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office on charges that he accessed MIT’s computer system to illegally obtain nearly 5 million JSTOR documents. For that, he faced more than 50 years in prison and $4 million in fines. Critics have accused the feds of being overzealous in their prosecution of Swartz.
His family released a statement Saturday placing part of the blame for Swartz’s death on the government and the university.
“Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death,” the statement read. “The U.S. Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”
MIT’s website has since been restored, but you can read Anonymous’ tribute to Swartz here.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
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