Anonymous hacks MIT Web sites to post Aaron Swartz tribute, call to arms

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 10:59 a.m. MST

In this Jan. 30, 2009 photo, Internet activist Aaron Swartz poses for a photo in Miami Beach, Fla. Swartz was found dead Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, according to Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for New York's medical examiner. Swartz, 26, was scheduled to face trial on hacking charges in a few weeks.

Associated Press

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Our take: The computer hacker group Anonymous hacked into MIT's webpage Sunday after RSS co-founder's suicide. Hayley Tsukayama from Washington Post writes about the group's messages rallying for the repair of intellectual property laws.

Hackers from Anonymous on Sunday claimed credit for posting messages to Massachusetts Institute of Technology websites commemorating the life of RSS co-founder Aaron Swartz and calling for an overhaul of computer crime laws.

Swartz, 26, was an outspoken advocate of open information and had been embroiled in a legal battle over digital copyright for scraping articles off of the JSTOR academic article database. He hanged himself Saturday at his apartment in Brooklyn.

In addition to co-authoring the technology behind RSS, which alerts users to real-time updates on websites, Swartz also played an early role at Reddit, and founded the advocacy group Demand Progress. He believed that the articles on JSTOR should be more widely available, particularly as many were funded by public money. He hacked into the databases systems and downloaded articles using a computer concealed in an MIT closet.

Once found, Swartz was charged with felony hacking charges, which could have carried a decades-long sentence. His trial was set to start this spring and his attempts to reach a plea-bargain with the government, the Wall Street Journal reported, had recently fallen apart.

In the messages Sunday, the group called for an overhaul of intellectual property and computer crime laws. The group also said Swartzs death should be a rallying point for Internet freedom advocates. 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, the group said.

Read more about Anonymous and MIT on The Washington Post.

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