MIT consults staff and students over Aaron Swartz probe

Aaron Swartz Aaron Swartz faced a possible 35-year jail term

Related Stories

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has begun soliciting input from the university's "community" into its review into the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz.

The site allows staff, students past and present and their parents to submit questions to MIT's investigation team.

Mr Swartz, 26, was found hanged earlier this month.

He was accused of illegally downloading academic documents using MIT networks, a charge many had said was unfair.

Suggestions on the site include: "What support, if any, does MIT offer for students undergoing federal investigations or criminal charges? If none, why not?"

MIT has said its review will be complete in "a few weeks".

It will be a chance to rebuild its reputation following heavy criticism over its role in Mr Swartz's arrest and subsequent treatment.

According to police reports of his arrest, Mr Swartz was first reported to the authorities by an employee at MIT's IT department.

MIT told officers more than 70GB of data had been downloaded from JStor, a subscription service that offers academic journals.

If convicted, Mr Swartz could have faced up to 35 years in prison.

He also might have had to pay a fine of more than $1m (£630,000).

Reddit help

Following the death, MIT president L Rafael Reif praised the "brilliant creativity and idealism" of Mr Swartz, who had been an early developer of Reddit, a community news website.

"It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy," he said in a statement.

"Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT."

Away from the MIT investigation, digital rights campaign group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) invited Reddit users to weigh in with their thoughts on what it has named Aaron's Law.

The EFF said it hoped to reform the Computer Fraud and Misuse Act in the wake of Mr Swartz's prosecution and subsequent suicide.

It also wants to clarify the legal definition of what it means to have obtained "unauthorised access".

Others have defended the authorities' actions in prosecuting Mr Swartz.

In one blog post, Orin Kerr, a professor of law at the George Washington University Law School, wrote the actions of the prosecutors had been "based on a fair reading of the law".

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Technology stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

BBC Future


The future of CGI... from 1982

How we forecast computer animation back then


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.