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DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity In Swartz Case 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-to-see-here-move-along dept.
theodp writes "Responding to an earlier request by the estate of Aaron Swartz to disclose the names of those involved in the events leading to Aaron's suicide, counsel for MIT snippily told the Court, "The Swartz Estate was not a party to the criminal case, and therefore it is unclear how it has standing, or any legally cognizable interest, to petition for the modification of the Protective Order concerning others' documents." In motions filed on slow-news-day Good Friday (MIT's on spring break), the DOJ, MIT, and JSTOR all insisted on anonymity for those involved in the Swartz case, arguing that redacting of names was a must, citing threats posed by Anonymous and LulzSec, a badly-photoshopped postcard sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann and another sent to his Harvard Prof father, cake frosting, a gun hoax, and e-mail sent to MIT. From the DOJ filing: 'I also informed him [Swartz estate lawyer] that whatever additional public benefit might exist by disclosing certain names was, in this case, outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse.' From the MIT filing: 'The publication of MIT's documents in unredacted form could lead to further, more targeted, and more dangerous threats and attacks...The death of Mr. Swartz has created a very volatile atmosphere.' From the JSTOR filing: 'The supercharged nature of the public debate about this case, including hacking incidents, gun hoaxes and threatening messages, gives JSTOR and its employees legitimate concern for their safety and privacy.'"
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DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity In Swartz Case

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  • Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:12PM (#43319631) Journal
    Only we are allowed to name names and ruin lives.
  • Fuck em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:19PM (#43319663)

    Lets have every name, every detail, all of it. Beaurocrats like to hide behind their organisations, which enables every manner of abuse. Haul these insects out into the light, overturn the rocks. A man is dead, there must be accountability. They need to learn that they are personally responsible for their own decisions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:21PM (#43319669)

    We have a right to know who decided to do that. It's our money being shot out of their legal gun.

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbrander (73222) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:25PM (#43319687) Homepage

    "...become targets of threats, harassment and abuse..."

    God God, is somebody dragging them into police stations, questioning them for hours, threatening them with 30 years in jail?

    Because those actions would be threats, harassment, and abuse indeed.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:30PM (#43319717) Homepage

    Yeah, that'd be nice.

    Unfortunately, far too many people think they have an absolute right to whatever they feel "justice" might be. If that means torching someone's house because they handed over an access log, then someone will likely do it. Maybe some investigator's family will have their whole social calendar thrown up on 4chan for public discussion, or a JSTOR programmer suddenly finds he owes $5,000,000 on a resort home in Dubai. This is the sad world we live in today, where people believe that it's not only feasible, but indeed desirable to seek vigilante justice.

    It's ironic that today, just and fair trials are so common that they don't make the news, but the injustices and scandals reported in the media are what shape people's opinions of the government.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:31PM (#43319721) Journal

    The moment you give government anonymity, it turns around and gives you tyranny, because it is no longer accountable.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:31PM (#43319727)

    Not as blind as a world without accountability. It's always the same story, whole organisations mess up or turn on lone individuals, then when the smoke clears there's mysteriously nobody to blame. That manager moved to another department, this clerk is not available for comment. Bring the beaurocrats to heel, I say.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:33PM (#43319739) Journal

    A scumbag? I'll wager he accomplished more in his brief lifetime than a pointless AC like you ever will.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:34PM (#43319743)

    Good, let's have their names and we'll reward them.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:35PM (#43319751)

    Exactly.

    They are quick to name persons of interest, slow to retract any such announcements, but now want to hide behind the Judges robes for over prosecuting a nothing case. The corruption of this DOJ exceeds anything under Bush.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:37PM (#43319757)

    No? Then, not guilty. Anyone that offs themselves is solely responsibly for that act.

    So if I lock you in my basement and threaten to torture you for the next ten years, and you find a way to kill yourself, nobody should ask me any questions. Your death was your own fault in that instance, right? I grant it's an exaggerated analogy, but it refutes your fallacy concisely. Somebody contributed to threatening an American citizen with decade(s) of prison time over essentially mild internet mischief, and I for one would like to know who is to be held accountable for that.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:37PM (#43319761)

    A person that allegedly committed multiple fellonies...

    Nothing has been proven in a court of law. Trumped up charges made sure that at least something would stick, even if he plead to a lesser charge. He quite likely didn't see any remotely positive outcome and found it necessary to take his own life. While I certainly don't agree with that decisiion, I sure understand his mental anguish.

  • by mpthompson (457482) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:42PM (#43319805)

    It's ironic that today, just and fair trials are so common that they don't make the news, but the injustices and scandals reported in the media are what shape people's opinions of the government.

    Given how powerful the government is against the individual, shouldn't it be the concern of everyone when the government commits injustices? Or, should it only be a big deal when the boot is on your own throat?

    I'm not arguing for vigilante justice, rather I'm arguing for full disclosure of who is involved in acts of injustice. Such disclosure is the only effective way of discouraging such abuses in the future. Perhaps if the government was seen as being transparent in such cases and effectively policing itself there were be much less risk of vigilante justice occurring in the first place.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:50PM (#43319853) Homepage

    Or more accurately, what does the GP have against JSTOR's low-ranking IT admin who found the access log when requested? Or the teenage daughter of the manager at JSTOR who passed on the request for that log? Or the MIT janitor who was supposed to lock that storage closet?

    Those are the people whose names are going to be named, and whose lives will be ruined when Anonymous lets loose their unbridled vigilante mayhem. Of course, the dear Common Man will loudly praise Anonymous' "justice", and when that IT admin can't get a job, or that teenager's fake nude picture is plastered across her college's website, or that janitor's door is knocked down by a SWAT team responding to a tip about a bombmaker... those are just minor incidents, nowhere near as tragic as putting valid accusations before our dear Saint Swartz.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:51PM (#43319857)

    Sure, why don't we just abandon our laws and due process and solve every problem by lynch mobs.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:54PM (#43319871)

    Just and fair trials are actually exceptionally rare, in part because actual trials are quite rare. The system is entirely based on pressuring defendants into plea-bargains, regardless of their innocence.

    In 1990, around 85% of federal prosecutions resulted in a plea-bargain, while 15% went to trial. Today, about 97% of federal prosecutions result in a plea-bargain, and only 3% go to trial. It's not because 97% of people charged are guilty, but because prosecutors make it abundantly clear that you had better take their plea-bargain if you know what's good for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:01PM (#43319905)

    I say, put their names out there for all to see, and let Anonymous make a bonfire out of their pathetic lives.

    The very fact that this kind of idiotic thinking is out there justifies the request for anonymity.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aris Katsaris (939578) <katsaris@gmail.com> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:13PM (#43319959) Homepage

    Which person did he ever harm? No one.

    That what he did is called "felonies" is much more of an indictment against the system that prosecuted him than against him.

    And that you feel entitled to call him a scumbag, despite the fact he harmed nobody, just because of that same "felonies" tag, is an indictment against you.

  • by Aris Katsaris (939578) <katsaris@gmail.com> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:24PM (#43320029) Homepage

    Really? No wrong committed? The same people who threatened with 35 years something that alternately could be convicted with only 6 months, if only he assuaded their pride by proclaiming himself guilty?

    They threatened a man with 70 times the supposedly appropriate punishment -- he'd have to go to jail WITHOUT a trial, if he didn't want that threat against him.

    So either they were willing to help a man escape 34.5 years of a just punishment, or they were willing to penalize a man with an additional 34.5 years that he didn't deserve. Which one is it?

    FUCK your plea-bargaining system, and anyone who defends it. You put to jail people who never had a trial, by merely SCARING them with a hundredfold vengeance if they dare proclaim their innocence. Anyone who doesn't DEMAND that your horrid and villainous plea-bargain system changes is complicit to such crimes.

  • Lynch mobs are about as much "due process" as plea-bargains are. "Hey, let's threaten you with 35 years in jail, so you'll be willing to forfeit your right to a trial and go to jail without one!"

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:34PM (#43320091)
    Not being criminally responsible for Swartz's suicide doesn't mean that there weren't inappropriate actions taken that, at the very least, are of public interest.
  • Re:Fuck em (Score:4, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:40PM (#43320141)
    I don't remember any such charges holding up. If they did, they probably weren't in the US. The suicide isn't what they should be held responsible for. They should be responsible for the overreach that contributed to Swartz's suicide.
  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:47PM (#43320207)
    And what he did was not anything that reasonably should be considered a crime. A stern talking to was about all he deserved, and it's basically what state prosecutors were seeking before federal prosecutors went batshit crazy on this case.
  • Re:Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:48PM (#43320215)

    No kidding, when I read:

        "outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse"

    My first though was double standards much? They must be afraid of getting the same treatment they gave Swartz?

  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @05:01PM (#43320311) Homepage

    You're kind of wrong about that. He will be remembered. He will be remembered as a symbol of free information and as a symbol of government gone wrong. He is one of the many examples of what is wrong and what will continue to go wrong. As they continue their behavior, they are increasingly more guilty. They and the public have seen the harm this type of action causes. That they do not pause or apologize shows they believe what they have done and are doing is right. They are broken and need to be disassembled.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @05:09PM (#43320375)
    He was accused of multiple felonies, but he didn't commit a single act that was deserving of felony punishment. Fuckheads like you that hide behind the letter of the law without exercising the critical thinking of what the purpose of the law and what would be just are the lifeblood of tyranny.
  • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @05:36PM (#43320553)

    And what he did was not anything that reasonably should be considered a crime. A stern talking to was about all he deserved, and it's basically what state prosecutors were seeking before federal prosecutors went batshit crazy on this case.

    That's not quite true. What he did was wrong. Did it deserve the full weight of the US government to come down on him? No, it did not, which means that what DOJ, MIT and JSTOR did was a serious abuse of power that ended up with a human being feeling trapped to the point of having no other way out than to take his own life.

    So, yes, he was wrong in what he did, but the people involved with this who should really be investigated and held accountable are off scott free.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @05:59PM (#43320663)

    Oh, fuck off, everything is fine. Family's point of view is understandable. And request of anonymity is understandable. And when it is granted it is understandable.

    There is no frustration at the family here. It is at losers that have nothing to do with the case that want some weird ass vigilantism applied to people who are completely innocent no matter what your perspective.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pseudonym (62607) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @07:41PM (#43321253)

    For comparison, you should ask the same random person on the street about William Rowan Hamilton, or Gregor Mendel, or Emmy Noether, or Joseph Louis Lagrange, or Grace Murray Hopper.

  • Re:Cowards. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:32PM (#43321475)

    False. Vigilante justice rarely if ever determines if a person is innocent before coming down with full force.

    You can test this for yourself. Have your friends report you for kiddy porn in a completely unfounded way and watch hilarity ensue as you're put through months of shit. If you're lucky enough they'll put you straight on the sex offender list and inform your neighbourhood and THEN investigate your case.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:35PM (#43321481)

    Just to clarify, are you talking about acquiring the documents or disseminating them? If it's the former, I disagree. If it's the latter, he didn't actually do that.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @09:22PM (#43321725)

    You don't seem to understand the kind of "work" that Anonymous actually does. Burning down someones house? Racking up a $5 million debt in Dubai? What parallel world do you live in where that kind of thing actually happens as a result of Anonymous raids? In this one, we deal primarily with generally embarassing leaked documents and DDoS attacks. I also call into question your perceived choice of targets in another post... The JSTOR janitor having their life ruined by them? You think enough people hold the janitor personally responsible to dish out vigilante justice on him? I think you've boarded the crazy train a little too long.

    You're worse than that Fox news report a few years back, showing the exploding van as a "demonstration" of their "domestic terrorism."

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:01AM (#43322333)

    Anonymity would only protect the victims of Swartz

    You're using that term, "victims", but it doesn't mean whatever it it is you think it means.

  • Re:Cowards. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:53AM (#43323303)

    False. Vigilante justice rarely if ever determines if a person is innocent before coming down with full force.

    You can test this for yourself. Have your friends report you for kiddy porn in a completely unfounded way and watch hilarity ensue as you're put through months of shit. If you're lucky enough they'll put you straight on the sex offender list and inform your neighbourhood and THEN investigate your case.

    The hilarious thing is, the example you quote isn't vigilante justice - it's what passes for official justice. It's not a case of vigilante justice being wrong, and due process being right - it's a case of due process being indistinguishable from knee-jerk crowd-mentality mob justice.

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