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
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…