Aaron Swartz

In the wake of Aaron Swartz’s death, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has launched an internal investigation into the role the University played in Swartz’s prosecution:

On Monday, MIT president L Rafael Reif praised the “brilliant creativity and idealism” of Mr Swartz, 26, who had been an early developer of the Reddit community.

“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 to staff.

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

He said he had asked his colleague, Prof Hal Abelson, to analyze how MIT had behaved when it had first discovered “unusual activity” on its network in 2010, what decisions it had made and what its options had been at the time.

Another participant in the case JSTOR issued a statement upon learning of Swartz’s death noting the settlement out of court over a year ago:

We have had inquiries about JSTOR’s view of this sad event given the charges against Aaron and the trial scheduled for April. The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge. At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011.

Supporters of Swartz have started a PDF Tribute to celebrate the free sharing of information, a cause Swartz dedicated his life to.

Photo by Fred Benenson under Creative Commons license