Documents to be released in Aaron Swartz hacking case

Internet activist Aaron Swartz, seen here at a conference in May 2012, committed suicide in January. (peretzp/flickr)
Internet activist Aaron Swartz, seen here at a conference in May 2012, committed suicide in January. Credit: peretzp/flickr

A judge on Monday ordered the release of previously sealed documents in the criminal hacking case against Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Swartz committed suicide in January before going to trial for allegedly stealing millions of academic articles from a private database using a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Swartz’s estate asked for the documents to be released to shed light on what they have termed an overzealous prosecution of the 26-year-old.

The documents, which include information about Swartz’s purported hacking into the JSTOR database using MIT’s computer network, must be stripped of the names of witnesses and law enforcement personnel, Judge Nathaniel Gorton ordered. Information about weaknesses in the two institutions’ computer networks must also be redacted, Gorton said.

Since Swartz’s death, “MIT and JSTOR were subjected to a variety of threats and harassing incidents by individuals purportedly retaliating in the name of Mr. Swartz,” Gorton wrote to explain why the names should not be released. The incidents included a hoax report in February that a gunman was on the loose on MIT’s campus.

Swartz founded the group Demand Progress and led a successful campaign to block a bill introduced in 2011 in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act, which generated fierce opposition in the technological community. He also helped create an early version of the Web feed system RSS and played a role in building the popular news sharing website Reddit.

The case ignited a controversy over U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s reliance on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act law. Prosecutors working for Ortiz used the law to charge Swartz with 13 felony counts that carried maximum prison time of 35 years although he had not profited from the JSTOR downloading.

Ortiz’s office, which had pressed to have the names removed from the documents, praised the ruling. “We believe that the court’s ruling strikes a reasonable balance between providing the public access to relevant information and protecting the privacy and safety interests of witnesses and victims in this matter,” spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said in an email.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Local

Reports: Dead man pulled from water at Boston's…

A dead man was reportedly pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Local

Primark to make US debut in Boston

Dublin retailer Primark will make its U.S. debut with a store at the former Filene's site in Boston.

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC 'targeting' US international Mix Diskerud

Metro New York has learned Mix Diskerud has drawn “interest” from the expansion MLS side, NYCFC.

MLB

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has…

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has been off so far in 2014

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."