Activist Aaron Swartz's family seeks release of names related to his prosecution; MIT to fight request
The family of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January weeks before he was due to face trial on data-theft charges, is asking a federal judge to order both the government and MIT to release documentation relating to his prosecution, including the names of law-enforcement and MIT officials actively involved in the case.
Through its lawyers, the Swartz family argues the public outcry and Congressional investigations into Swartz's prosecution require the release of the names to help determine what really happened and who was responsible.
The central and stated goal of the Congressional inquiry into Mr. Swartz's case is to understand how the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Swartz proceeded, including how the evidence against Mr. Swartz was gathered and then presented to this Court. Most of the contested Rule 16 documents are emails and, in order to understand those emails and their importance to the prosecution, one must know who is speaking and his or her employer and role with that entity. For example, the same email might have a different meaning depending on whether it is identified as being from the General Counsel of MIT as opposed to a junior level employee. Likewise, an email explaining the workings of an entity's computer network would be significantly more meaningful if it came from a director of network security with technical knowledge, as opposed to a police officer or other layperson.
In a letter posted by the Tech, however, MIT President Rafel Reif says he will fight the request to release names:
In the time since Aaron Swartz's suicide, we have seen a pattern of harassment and personal threats. In this volatile atmosphere, I have the responsibility to protect the privacy and safety of those members of our community who have become involved in this matter in the course of doing their jobs for MIT, and to ensure a safe environment for all of us who call MIT home.
Reif added MIT will release copies of the material - with names and details of MIT network security vulnerabilities stripped out - when it releases a report by Prof. Hal Abelson on MIT's role in Swartz's case.
|Request by Swartz family||61.53 KB|