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The Aaron Swartz case

One of the Internet's creative forces, Aaron Swartz in 2011 was charged with hacking into MIT’s network and downloading millions of documents from a paid archive. He committed suicide in January 2013. Family and friends said his death was inspired, in part, by the forthcoming criminal prosecution, pinning some of the blame for his suicide on US Attorney Carmen Ortiz — a claim Ortiz vehemently denied.

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Key players

Aaron Swartz
Swartz, a political and Internet activist and cofounder of the website Reddit, committed suicide in January 2013. He was awaiting trial after being charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. Federal prosecutors said Swartz hacked into MIT’s network and downloaded millions of documents illegally. Swartz’s family and friends say the US Attorney’s office overzealously prosecuted the case.
Carmen Ortiz
The US Attorney for Massachusetts came under fire after Swartz’s suicide. Ortiz said she was “terribly upset” about the suicide, but also defended her office’s work. “I pride myself in striving to be fair and reasonable,” she said. Later, Ortiz’s husband criticized the Swartz family’s statements about Ortiz actions.
Robert Swartz
The father of the Internet activist has been outspoken in his criticism of the US Attorney’s Office’s prosecution of his son. In an interview, Robert Swartz also said MIT should release all internal documents related to the court case.

Timeline

Latest news

Congress to ponder 'Aaron's Law'

As proposed Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, it would alter the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to reduce or limit the penalties for violating the law. (6/20/13)

MIT steps up security for commencement

The school’s announcement follows a semester of cybersecurity breaches, a hoax report of a gunman on campus, and the murder of an MIT police officer while he was on duty. (6/6/13)

Judge: MIT can redact names in report

Disclosing names of university officials and others when releasing Swartz-related documents could expose investigators to harassment and retaliation, a judge ruled. (5/13/13)

Kickstarter campaign raises cash for documentary

The filmmaker will release the results under a public domain, Creative Commons license, a choice Swartz long championed. (4/29/13)

Participants at Boston rally recall activist

About 150 people gathered near South Station to remember Aaron Swartz, some holding signs saying “Aaron’s Law” and listening to folk songs like “We Shall Overcome.” (4/13/13)

MIT reveals improved security plans

In a message to the university’s Academic Council, a school executive wrote that the changes would “ensure the safety of our community and the integrity of our campus.” (4/3/13)

Email: MIT classes off due to 'Swartz situation'

In a copy of the message, posted by The Tech, the student newspaper, the hoaxer wrote that MIT was taking an “important step ... relating to the Aaron Swartz situation.” (3/20/13)

Congressional inquiry into Swartz case widens

The suicide of Aaron Swartz prompted questions about whether officials went too far in enforcing a 27-year-old law regulating computer use. (2/28/13)

Official: Gunman hoax related to suicide

A caller who said a gunman was on the MIT campus said the target was MIT's president and that the gunman was motivated by the Aaron Swartz suicide. (2/27/13)

Transparency activist Carl Malamud unredacts names from Swartz FBI files

Malamud, a friend of Aaron Swartz, went through the recently released FBI files and filled in some blanks on redactions made by the FBI. (2/25/13)

After Aaron Swartz death, MIT was hacked 3 times

MIT said starting two days after the death of Swartz, the school’s network has suffered outages "that have temporarily affected a number of web services.” (2/7/13)
Web activist Aaron Swartz, 26, found dead in N.Y.

Web activist Aaron Swartz, 26, found dead in N.Y.

Swartz took his life Jan. 11 in Brooklyn, according to a statement released by family and partner. (1/12/13)

Web activist charged with hacking into MIT network to download files

Aaron Swartz, 24, was a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics when the incidents took place, authorities said. (7/20/11)

Swartz achieved success early in life

Aaron Swartz is one of many young people who found fame, and riches, at a young age. (9/7/07)