MIT Is Target of Hacker Group Following Suicide of Internet Activist


The Chronicle

 MIT Is Target of Hacker Group Following Suicide of Internet Activist

January 14, 2013, 3:23 pm


By Jake New
The home page of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was disabled on Sunday evening by the notorious hacker group Anonymous, hours after the university’s president announced an investigation into MIT’s role in a criminal case against the Internet activist Aaron H. Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday.

The attack was part of an outcry against MIT and prosecutors who were seeking to punish Mr. Swartz for what he considered cyberactivism. The 26-year-old programmer was facing up to 35 years in prison after he allegedly used a laptop hidden in an MIT closet in 2011 to make unauthorized downloads of more than four million scholarly articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR.

He was accused of downloading the materials with the intention of uploading the documents to the Internet and making them freely available, according to a federal indictment. The criminal case had some legal experts and activists puzzled, since Mr. Swartz returned the documents, and a civil case was dropped.

His trial was scheduled for April. He had pleaded not guilty.

On Sunday, Anonymous reportedly hacked MIT Web sites, transforming them into memorials for Mr. Swartz and causing a Web outage that lasted for several hours. Kimberly Allen, a media-relations manager at MIT, confirmed that the incident stemmed from a denial-of-service attack, and that the outage lasted “through much of the evening.”

The statement on the hacked pages described the prosecution of Mr. Swartz as “a grotesque miscarriage of justice” and called for a reform of computer-crime and copyright laws.

In a postcript to their statement, the hackers wrote, “We do not consign blame or responsibility upon MIT for what has happened, but call for all those feel heavy-hearted in their proximity to this awful loss to acknowledge instead the responsibility they have—that we all have—to build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud, and honor the ideals and dedication that burnt so brightly within him by embodying them in thought and word and action.”

The call to action seemed to contain less finger-pointing than other statements in the wake of his death.

Some, including Mr. Swartz’s family and lawyer, have blamed MIT and the U.S. attorney’s office for the programmer’s suicide.

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” Mr. Swartz’s family said in a written statement. “It is the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

The U.S. attorney’s office, the family stated, pursued “an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.” A White House petition calling for the resignation of U.S. attorney, Carmen M. Ortiz, has drawn nearly 14,000 signatures since Saturday. Ms. Ortiz’s office filed a motion on Monday seeking dismissal of the case since the defendant had died.

In a letter to the MIT community on Sunday, L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s president, said the university was saddened by Mr. Swartz’s death.

“It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy,” Mr. Reif said, before calling upon “everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT.”

Mr. Reif appointed Hal Abelson, an MIT professor, to lead an investigation into what options MIT had following the alleged crime and the decisions the university made.

JSTOR also released a statement that called Mr. Swartz’s death a tragedy and said “the case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge.”

JSTOR had settled any civil claims it had against Mr. Swartz, as he had returned all the data he had downloaded from its servers, said Heidi McGregor, a spokeswoman for JSTOR. Ms. McGregor said that the organization’s interest was in ensuring the materials were returned, and that JSTOR had no influence over how the U.S. attorney’s office handled the case.

“We don’t own the data, the publishers own it,” Ms. McGregor said. “So our objective was to just get it back.”

Mr. Swartz rose to prominence when, at age 14, he helped write an early version of the Web-syndication format called RSS. He also co-founded the popular Web site Reddit and later started a nonprofit advocacy group called Demand Progress. In 2008 he wrote a “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto,” about how corporations were digitizing academic books and journals and then charging money for access to them.

“Information is power,” Mr. Swartz wrote. “But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”

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著名计算机黑客Aaron Swartz自杀身亡

摘要:Reddit联合创始人、RSS规格合作创造者、web.py创始人、著名计算机黑客Aaron Swartz于纽约当地时间1月11日自杀身亡。Swartz在14岁时合作编写了RSS 1.0规格,是社交新闻网站Reddit联合创始人,还是Python web框架web.py的创始人。



北京时间1月12日消息,Reddit联合创始人、RSS规格合作创造者、web.py创始人、著名计算机黑客Aaron Swartz于纽约当地时间1月11日自杀身亡,享年26岁。Aaron Swartz的叔叔已经向《The Tech》证实了这一消息。

Swartz很早就参与了网络标准的建立,在14岁就参与创造RSS1.0规格,并因此在程序设计圈中声名鹊起,也从那时开始成为W3CRDF核心工作组成员。他还与John Gruber共同设计了排版语言Markdown。


Swartz曾在斯坦福大学读书,但很快辍学创建Infogami软件公司。Aaron Swartz还是社交新闻网站Reddit的三位创始人之一,2006年初,Infogami与Reddit合并,并在2006年底被出售给出版公司Condé Nast。Swartz在20周岁生日前出售了他所持有的股份。

Swartz在2010年创立了反对互联网审查的Demand Progress。这个机构通过Email及其他媒体组织群众,针对特定议题向国会议员及其他意见领袖表达意见、施予压力。


JSTOR是一个在线学术期刊系统,它的数据库包括了一千多家期刊,供获得许可的图书馆、大学和出版机构自由访问。Aaron Swartz居住在麻省剑桥,2010年9月他购买了一台电脑,在MIT网络中注册了一个用户名ghost,运行Python脚本从JSTOR数据库中下载论文。JSTOR探测到了脚本,屏蔽了他的IP地址。Swartz随后迅速改变IP和MAC地址,绕过MIT和JSTOR的封杀。他接着购买了第二台笔记本,加快论文下载。2010年10月,JSTOR放弃了追杀,屏蔽了整个MIT校园网络。几周之后,Swartz再次运行论文下载脚本,这次他进入了MIT的网络柜,给自己分配了两个IP地址,在网络柜中藏好笔记本和外置硬盘。根据起诉书(PDF),他是戴着自行车头盔进出网络中心的。起诉书指控他有意在文件共享网络分享他下载的数百万论文。



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