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MIT Investigating School's Role In Swartz Suicide 382

The untimely death of Aaron Swartz has raised a lot of questions over the weekend. Now MIT is launching an internal investigation to determine what role the school played in his suicide. From the article: "In a statement, MIT President L. Rafael Reif offered his condolences, saying that the school's community was 'extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man who touched the lives of so many. Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT,' Reif said. 'I have asked professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. 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. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.'"
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MIT Investigating School's Role In Swartz Suicide

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  • Re: Unusual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:47AM (#42581043)
    The plea bargain system only works as it does because the law is draconian enough to allow for decades of punishment as punishment for small crimes. If not for that people wouldn't be forced to take plea bargains regardless of their culpability to avoid the possibility of ridiculous punishments.
  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:53AM (#42581567) Homepage

    A few minor corrections.

    After watching US going after Assange...

    Uh, the US has not gone after Assange (not yet, anyway). The US went after Bradley Manning, is that who you're thinking of? Sweden is going after Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on rape charges, and Assange says that he fears that if he goes to Sweden to answer the charges, they will extradite him to the US... but to date, there is no U.S. action against Assange.

    ...So now 26 Aaron had a choice. Fight for 3-4 yrs in the courts and then spend 15-20 yrs in the slammer or...

    Newspapers always like to phrase indictments with words like "up to XX years in prison!" This makes the news story more exciting. However, there are such things as federal sentencing guidelines []. Non-violent crime, first offense, no previous convictions, no aggravating factors-- I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up with a fine plus time served.

    Furthermore, he almost certainly could get a plea bargain-- believe it or not, prosecutors don't want to go to court if they can possibly get a conviction without doing so. Unfortunately, a plea bargain would have required Swartz admitting that he did broke the law, and it looks like he was not the type of person who would do that.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @11:18AM (#42581793)
    Understanding why hackers do this may prevent some future suicides anywhere in the hacker community.

    Up to a half dozen students commit suicide any year. Several large lawsuits from the parents of suicide victims in the past decade prompted MIT to beef up round-the-clock mental health care help. Most recently the MIT student newspaper conducted and extensive study [] of stress in student life. Its almost like coming out gay- plenty of students think they are the only ones suffering from stress and retreat into their personal hell-holes. The need to talk to each other and professionals.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich