Anonymous Hits MIT Site On Anniversary Of Aaron Swartz’ Death

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Aaron Swartz photo by Sage Ross via Wikipedia

A year on from Aaron Swartz’s suicide, hacktivist group hits MIT again

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) website remains down today following an Anonymous attack, carried out on the anniversary of the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz – a death which some  blame on MIT.

The group called on people to join in remembering Swartz, who helped develop the RSS format for news readers, and the site Reddit, but  committed suicide just over a year ago aged 26. A free speech activist, Swartz had been hounded by US law enforcement over copyright infringement, for using MIT’s resources to download academic papers from the online library , JSTOR. State officials and MIT dropped the case, but federal authorities continued to press for punishment, and Swartz’s supporters claim MIT failed to protect Swartz.

The defaced page, for MIT’s Cogeneration Project, which is focused on efficiently producing energy for the institute, was replaced by a message to “remember the day we fight back”, according to reports, linking Anonymous’ action with The Day We Fight Back, a more broadly based protest against government snooping by the National Security Agency (NSA)., due to take place on 11 February.

 

MIT was heavily criticised for not offering enough support to Swartz. His supporters claimed MIT could have done much more to stop the investigation, yet the institute took limited responsibility for his death.

Aaron Swartz 2MIT hacked again

Anonymous and others, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Mozilla, will be taking part in The Day We Fight Back on 11 February. It will call on the government to end mass surveillance “of both Americans and the citizens of the whole world”. Anonymous’ attack on MIT is a bid to enlist Swartz’s supporters for this cause.

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, which he co-founded with Swartz, said on Friday: “Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime. If Aaron were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings.”

The Anonymous group also said a the JSTOR files Swartz downloaded should also remain up, as a statement in support of freedom of information.

 

The group attacked MIT and a host of other organisations in 2013, soon after Swartz’s death. First came the US Department of Justice, which was blamed for much of the harassment of the young activist, who had fought legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Next came the US Federal Reserve in February, pilfering data on over 4,000 bank executives.

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