The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched an internal probe of the events leading up to the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was facing federal charges for allegedly hacking into the school's journal archives.
"It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement. "Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT."
Swartz' legal troubles began two years ago when prosecutors said he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from MIT and JSTOR, a journal storage repository. Swartz, 26, had been an advocate for open access and the freedom of information online.
He was due to stand trial in April, and if convicted, could have faced decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. Swartz had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Hal Abelson, a professor at MIT, who is also founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, has been tapped to lead the school's internal probe.
"I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took," Reif said....
....Furor over Swartz' death has reached the White House in the form of a petition asking for the removal of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz who pressed the case against Swartz.
The petition has been signed by nearly 12,000 people and needs 25,000 signatures by Feb. 11 to garner an official response from the White House.....