disappeared from the Internet

MIT Web page about its cogeneration plant was replaced with Anonymous message Sunday night.Obscure MIT Web page about its cogeneration plant was replaced with Anonymous message.

UPDATE, Monday: MIT confirms it was a distributed denial-of-service attack, rather than a network misconfiguration:

On Sunday 1/13/2013 from approximately 7:00pm to 10:30pm MIT experienced a denial of service (DoS) attack. During this period external network connectivity to and from MIT was down for the large majority of the Internet. IS&T staff responded and service was restored by 10:30pm.

UPDATE, 11:20 p.m.: is back up, although the co-gen page still shows the Anonymous message.

Revenge for Aaron Swartz's death? TechCrunch reports MIT's Web site is down, although some testing here (ping and traceroute) suggests the entire domain is no longer listed in DNS.

The Tech tweets:

MIT's network has been down since 7 p.m. EST. MIT staff are working on the problem.

TechCrunch also says is down, which may be true, but the department's current domain - - was up as of 8:15 p.m. See, for example, the US Attorney's office in Boston.

Back at MIT, Chia Evers tweets:

I'm actually at MIT, and using 3G for Twitter. Weirdly, we can get to Google.



Free tagging: 


"libs" as in libertarians?

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Aaron Swartz's actions wrt JSTOR may have been misguided, but they were fundamentally libertarian in nature. He believed (and quite a few members of the legal and scientific communities agree) that many of the research papers in JSTOR's archives are in the public domain already, and should be available for free - either because they are old enough for their copyright to have expired, or because the underlying research was funded in part by US government agencies with policies requiring public access.

Two Days Before MIT and

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Two Days Before MIT and Cambridge Cops Arrested Aaron Swartz, Secret Service Took Over the Investigation

The public story of Aaron Swartz’ now-tragic two year fight with the Federal government usually starts with his July 19, 2011 arrest.

But that’s not when he was first arrested for accessing a closet at MIT in which he had a netbook downloading huge quantities of scholarly journals. He was first arrested on January 6, 2011 by MIT and Cambrige, MA cops.

According to a suppression motion in his case, however two days before Aaron was arrested, the Secret Service took over the investigation.


But the involvement of the Secret Service just as it evolved from a local breaking and entry case into the excessive charges ultimately charged makes it clear that this was a nationally directed effort to take down Swartz.

MIT’s President Rafael Reif has expressed sadness about Aaron’s death and promised an investigation into the university’s treatment of Aaron. I want to know whether MIT–which is dependent on federal grants for much of its funding–brought in the Secret Service.

Stealing is bad, mkay?

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If someone tried stealing magazines I paid for from my mailbox or something I would go after them with a live scorpion nailed to the end of a 2x4.

JSTOR isn't just scientific research papers that are public domain, its a copy of virtually every periodical publication out there, from The Journal of Industrial Labor Relations to Seventeen Magazine. If he was stealing from a newsstand he would be serving time for larceny.

Magazines cost money. Stop being a cheap ass and just buy them if you want to read them. Information is free, but the paper it's printed on (physical or virtual) is not free.

What he did was the

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What he did was the equivalent of taking the Globe from your doorstep, running to Kinko's to copy all of it, and putting it back.

Annoying. And wrong. But hardly something worth what the feds wanted to do to him.

Poor analogy

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That would certainly have the potential to hurt me if the magazine I enjoy goes out of business because everyone except me is reading it for free.

Except they aren't free

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Most journals in JSTOR require the authors to PAY to have their article written. So all of those articles have already generated money (they are actually technically called advertisments). Then, they collect subscription fees too. They have so many site licenses for universities and large companies that pretty much nobody pays the article price or individual subscription price. Plus, they have a lock-in for both authors and readers since you can't get peer-reviewed articles outside of the journal publishing system (even modern takes like PLoS are still the same centralized system), so unlike newspapers or paper magazines, they aren't competing with the Internet as a cost-saving model.

All the subscription cost does is separate those that know someone at a University and those that don't.


The vast majority of the information contained in those journals was generated from research that was paid for by our tax dollars.

One could say that we all already own it - or should. Most EU research contracts and an increasing number of federal research contracts thus stipulate that any publications resulting have to be published in the public domain.

I actually agree

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And I also am inclined to be sympathetic to what Swartz was trying to accomplish. I was just noting that it was a poor analogy, because in Ron Newman's example there's a pretty clear negative consequence.


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Actually while he was making his free copies of them, MIT and JSTORs networks were quite severely affected, leading legitimate paying users of such items to be unable to access them.

But then by your analogy one shouldn't call out people who sneak into movie theaters when one pays for pricey tickets to get in because their presence isn't directly hurting ones enjoyment of the movie.

Or someone who illegally downloads songs to listen to when one paid for the album...

etc. etc. with the copyright or piracy crime analogies.

"Actually while he was making

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"Actually while he was making his free copies of them, MIT and JSTORs networks were quite severely affected, leading legitimate paying users of such items to be unable to access them."

YOu mean "leading legitimate users at MIT to get their copies by asking friends at other institutions to download for them."

It was an inconvenience, but nothing more than an inconvenience.


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Are you serious? You believe that someone would serve 6 months for stealing a magazine?! Do you live in the United States? Mass sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter is 40-60 months for a defendant with no record. That's basically 3-5 for killing a person. And you think that people are serving time for stealing magazines?

Also, please give me your license plate number so that I can tell police to charge you with negligent operation of a motor vehicle when you speed because clearly whenever you do something wrong you think you should charged and sentenced as harshly as possible.

Well that someone did not

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Well that someone did not steal A magazine, but rather millions of them - so yeah... that probably would qualify (if they were not using the Computer Fraud charges) as grand larceny.

I hardly claim to be a perfectly law abiding citizen 100% of the time. But I don't steal.

Also there is an assumption that he would have been sentenced for the maximum penalty. All of that is conjecture since the trial was still on the horizon. And there is an assumption that his suicide was directly related to his pending court case.

The problem is not that he was being charged, but that they have one criminal charge to fit a wide variety of criminal actions.

If you leach files from JSTOR, misrepresent your identity online, use a computer at work to download porn, or break into NORAD and accidentally play a game with real missles - there is but one criminal charge. Thus the high MAXIMUM penalty. One should urge ones lawmakers to work to reform the law to further subdivide computer fraud charges into single crimes that can have more specific sentencing guidelines.

MITnet (or not)

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Two things:

(1) if Chia is using 3G, she's not using MITnet
(2) DDOS primarily relates to inbound (traffic from the rest of the world to MIT), not outbound (from MIT to the rest of the world).

Who will "win": the smart people causing the DDOS, or the MIT network administrators?

MIT doesn't have a firewall.

MIT may not have a firewall

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MIT may not have a firewall now but I'm sure they will soon after this.

MIT's stupid position in the Aaron Schwartz case has irreparably damaged their reputation.

stupid position being...not taking one?

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...despite the fact that he trespassed into campus, a building, and a network closet?

Installed a computer without permission?

Took several steps to make it nearly impossible to locate said computer on the campus network?

Used that computer to download data at such a high rate that JSTOR services were impacted, several times part or all of MIT's community were blocked from accessing JSTOR?...and when that wasn't good enough, added a second computer, which caused JSTOR's servers to crash?

Yeah, FUCK MIT! How DARE they not say anything one way or the other on the matter!

MIT referred the case to the feds

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Expert Witness for Swartz: The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

Professor Lessig will always write more eloquently than I can on prosecutorial discretion and responsibility, but I certainly agree that Aaron’s death demands a great deal of soul searching by the US Attorney who decided to massively overcharge this young man and the MIT administrators who decided to involve Federal law enforcement.

The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz | Glenn Greenwald

Swartz never distributed any of these downloaded articles. He never intended to profit even a single penny from anything he did, and never did profit in any way. He had every right to download the articles as an authorized JSTOR user; at worst, he intended to violate the company's "terms of service" by making the articles available to the public. Once arrested, he returned all copies of everything he downloaded and vowed not to use them. JSTOR told federal prosecutors that it had no intent to see him prosecuted, though MIT remained ambiguous about its wishes.

DNS hack

Somebody most likely hacked or poisoned the Domain Name System so did not resolve. Its happened many times, but I can't remember it happening to such a large domain/address space.


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I've lost a lot of respect for the administration at MIT.
They threw Aaron to the wolves, stood by watching the mauling, and now a bright young mind is dead. Like it or not, they have his blood on their hands.


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Aaron had suicidal thoughts back in 2007, way before any of this.

AARON made the decision to install a computer on a network he didn't have permission to use. He knew he didn't belong there - he hid his face from people and security cameras.

AARON decided to subvert attempts to identify the computer or its owner, or shut down the network connection to the system, because he knew they would try, because he was doing something he wasn't allowed to do.

AARON decided to use that computer to access content against the policies of the website that content was on. He knew he'd get in trouble for it, too, given that he'd been investigated for pulling the same stunt with PACER.

MIT did not "throw him to the wolves." MIT by and large stayed out of the whole mess, except for investigating the intrusion into their network.

Aaron was not some innocent little lamb. He knew he'd get in trouble and he did it anyway. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Got any traffic tickets?

He knew he'd get in trouble and he did it anyway. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Do let us know when you get caught speeding or runing a red light. You may think its a trivial matter of paying the ticket, but NO! Speeders and traffic offenders are terrorists! I want to be sure that you understand that the death penalty is the only appropriate remedy.

Good Analogy!

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If you get a traffic ticket, it's perfectly reasonable to kill yourself rather than face the possible consequences. In fact, by pulling you over for exceeding the speed limit, that cop basically tied you a noose and forced you to put it around your neck at gunpoint.

If that speeding ticket is for $1million?

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And you'll possibly have to serve a few decades in prison as well? Yeah, I think people struggling with severe depression might find that a serious trauma.

Btw, I'm not sure I've seen anyone say that Aaron's suicide was "reasonable" as you sarcastically put it - but perhaps understandable, given the circumstances.

Apples and oranges

If I speed or don't put enough money in the meter, I'm making a conscious decision to do those things and know that I have to accept the consequences of my action.

Aaron knew what he was doing and while he may have thought he was just going to get a slap on the wrist, the government thought otherwise. So, yes, he should not have done the crime without first figuring out what the worst he could have gotten for his actions was.

And while I'm making comparisons, Swartz took his life over the theft of seemingly innocuous documents while Bradley Manning still rots in a jail cell, seemingly forgotten in all of this.