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Anonymous hacks MIT in copyright reform call

January 14, 2013

By Colin Mann

Members of online hacktivist group Anonymous have targeted sites related to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) following the suicide of Aaron Swartz, the Reddit co-founder who championed open access to documents on the Internet.

Swartz was arrested in July 2011 and accused of stealing four million documents from MIT and Jstor, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. He faced $4 million in fines and more than 50 years in prison if convicted.

Anonymous targeted at least two MIT websites, posting a call for reform in Swartz’s memory.

Describing the prosecution of Swartz as “a grotesque miscarriage of justice” and “a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for,” Anonymous set out a number of wishes:

  • “We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.
  • We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few.
  • We call for this tragedy to be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response.
  • We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered Internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all.”

Swartz’s family said his death was the product of a criminal justice system “rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death,” averred a statetement from the family.


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