MIT releases report on Aaron Swartz case, finds ‘no wrongdoing’ on its part

Furman also took umbrage with the amount of time MIT took to complete its report. In February, Abelson said he hoped the report would be “ready in a few weeks.” Instead, seven months passed before it was released.

While still stressing that MIT did nothing wrong, the report and President Reif said that due to the important issues of open-access and computer crime laws that surrounded the case, MIT did miss “an opportunity to demonstrate the leadership that we pride ourselves on.”

“Knowing the tragedy of Aaron Swartz’s death, I read the report with a tremendous sense of sorrow,” Reif wrote in a letter. “His family and friends suffered a terrible personal loss, and the Internet community lost an exceptional leader. Even those of us who never knew him mourn the loss of someone so young and so brilliant.”

 ‘Key Findings’ from MIT’s Report

Beginning in September 2010, MIT and JSTOR observed massive downloading of JSTOR articles by a laptop connected to MIT’s network. The downloading recurred in October and December, and bypassed MIT’s attempts to stop it.

The scale of the downloading was large enough that it threatened to shut down JSTOR’s overall service.

MIT did not learn that the person responsible for the downloading was Aaron Swartz until after his arrest, on an initial charge of breaking and entering.

MIT called in a Cambridge Police detective to help with its investigation.  The detective arrived on campus accompanied by a federal special agent of the Secret Service, but the report found that MIT did not intentionally “call in the feds” to take over the investigation.

MIT did not request that federal charges be brought against Aaron Swartz. The university was not consulted about its opinion about appropriate charges or punishment, and it did not offer any.

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