This year started off on a sad note with the suicide of the man known as Aaron Swartz, made famous for his development of Reddit and Demand Progress. His death is said to have been due to massive legal pressure put on by the Department of Justice and MIT after it was discovered that he’d hacked into the academic journal system known as JSTOR, releasing documents to the public that otherwise would have been limited to students and academics of all sorts still under the payment plan required by the system. Today it’s been announced that MIT will release until-now locked-down documents related to the case.
It was just this past week that the lawyers working with the Swartz estate requested that the documents at hand be released in full. Though both MIT and the lawyer group agreed that some details would certainly be redacted for the safety of those involved, it would appear that more than just phone and social security numbers will be cut from this release.
The letter released today to the MIT community from MIT president Rafael Reif noted that they remain dedicated to as open a system as possible, but that they’d still have to cut out names and details that would lead back to those involved. The full text of the letter can be found in a PasteBin page – PasteBin being a repository for documents that can be submitted entirely anonymously, if you did not know.
“At MIT, we believe in openness, and we are not afraid to reexamine our own actions; indeed, it was with those values in mind that I asked Professor Hal Abelson to undertake his analysis following Aaron Swartz’s tragic suicide. But I believe that openness must be balanced with reasonable concern for privacy and safety. That is especially true in this situation. In the time since Aaron Swartz’s suicide, we have seen a pattern of harassment and personal threats. In this volatile atmosphere, I have the responsibility to protect the privacy and safety of those members of our community who have become involved in this matter in the course of doing their jobs for MIT, and to ensure a safe environment for all of us who call MIT home.” – Reif
So it’s passwords to systems and the names and phone numbers – and social security numbers, all that sort of stuff – that’s being kept blank. Make sense to you? The exact wording from Reif is as follows:
“Therefore – in the spirit of openness, balanced with responsibility – we will release the requested MIT documents, redacting employee names and identifying information as appropriate to protect their privacy, as well as redacting information about network vulnerabilities.” – Reif
Have a peek at the timeline below to see more information leading up to this moment and be sure to stick with SlashGear for more updates as this case continues. Let us know what you think of the progress that’s being made, and be sure to speak up if you’ve got any details you’d like us to know that we don’t already!
Thanks for the tip, Jack!