Anonymous Hackers Down MIT Website After Aaron Swartz Suicide

The Wrap
Anonymous Hackers Down MIT Website After Aaron Swartz Suicide (Updated)
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Anonymous Hackers Down MIT Website After Aaron Swartz Suicide (Updated)

The hacker group Anonymous took down the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's website Monday morning in retaliation for the role it felt the college played in researcher Aaron Swartz's suicide.

Swartz, a political activist and computer programmer, reportedly hanged himself last week in his Brooklyn apartment as he awaited trial on 13 felony counts for downloading and publishing roughly 4 million academic journal articles from the database JSTOR.

He allegedly used the university's network to download the data.

Swartz's family and partner issued a statement over the weekend, accusing the college of having a role in his death, saying "decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. attorney's office and at M.I.T. contributed to his death" and that "M.I.T. refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community's most cherished principles."

From 4 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. PT on Sunday evening, M.I.T.'s network lost access to most websites, including mit.edu, where Anonymous posted a red-lettered message in Swartz's honor.

"Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government's prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for â€" freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it â€" enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing â€" an ideal that we should all support," said the message.

Kimberly Allen, the media relations manager at M.I.T., did not immediately respond to a call from TheWrap requesting comment.

President Rafael Reif asked computer science professor Hal Abelson on Sunday to "lead a thorough analysis of M.I.T.'s involvement from" in Swartz's case.

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