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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.