MIT says: Sue us, too

MIT wants to be added as a defendant in a journalist's legal effort to gain access to the Secret Service's files on the late Aaron Swartz. The reporter, Wired's Kevin Poulsen, writes MIT wants to block the Secret Service from releasing the names of any MIT staffers who helped the feds investigate and bring charges against Swartz for downloading large numbers of documents via an MIT network.

MIT said it fears retribution against staffers who cooperated. Earlier this year, it vowed to fight a similar information request from Swartz's family.


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PDF icon MIT request to intervene0 bytes


It is generally the

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It is generally the governments policy to redact names and identities of individuals. The court also stated that the names should be redacted when the documents are released by the Secret Service

This move just looks like MIT is trying to hide the extent of their involvement and cooperation with the government during the investigation.

So much for transparency and accountability

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I am not one of the MIT

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I am not one of the MIT employees who was at all involved in the case. Some of my friends were. They and their families could be put at risk if their names are released. What is the harm in saying "Employee A", "Employee B", etc?

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We could all be so fortunate to have an employer like MIT

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You all know damned well that there are lots of people who would go after the MIT personnel in various ways, and we could all be so fortunate to have an employer who gave a shit as much as MIT apparently does about the well-being of us and our families (I understand that this is also somewhat in MIT's interest).

By the way, do we know whether these MIT personnel were compelled to cooperate with the government (e.g., was there a search warrant or similar)? If so, it is totally insane that anyone would fault MIT for getting their employees' backs.

I am surprised to hear that Poulsen's lawyer has never seen this kind of intervention. It happens with some degree of frequency in situations just like this.

As for the notion that names are redacted from FOIA requests, that is only true if the governmental agency releasing the records redacts them. MIT is totally right to be concerned that the Secret Service might not redact every occurrence of those names, because really, the Secret Service is not concerned about whether those people are outed.

Finally, I was also surprised to read that Poulsen has never seen this happen in 15 years of reporting. I handled FOIA requests for a state agency for 2 years and I saw third-party intervenors multiple times (it happens mostly because, despite well-written public contracts warning the non-state party that all info could become public, the non-state parties still include information that they don't want to be public and which is not exempt from disclosure under the law). It would happen even more often if those third parties knew about FOIA requests that might affect them (they almost never do).

Truthfully, I would have been surprised if MIT had not intervened.

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