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DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity In Swartz Case 236

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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  • Cowards. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:18PM (#43319661)

    If they're innocent they have nothing to fear, right?

  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:28PM (#43319693)

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

    It'll serve as a warning to others who believe it's right to unfairly destroy other peoples lives.

    "Destroy peoples' lives; and have your life destroyed in turn." It would be a powerful message in poetic justice.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @03:52PM (#43319865) Homepage
    This isn't the government fearing the people. This is people fearing the people, and the government trying to step between them. Stopping vigilantism is why we have a rigid justice system in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:12PM (#43319951)

    Just like the abortion doctors who hide their names and addresses so their houses don't get blown up, right?

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:40PM (#43320151)

    Um no. Most of these people had nothing to do with the decisions made by the DOJ in the processing of this case.

  • Accountability (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @04:48PM (#43320217)

    Aaron Schwartz paid a very heavy penalty for what he did. His deeds were illegal in an abstract way: public money paid for the information, and he tried to keep it in the public. For this he was arrested, interrogated at length, threatened, and offered 30 years in prison. Quite a long time for publishing information, and not even information that is a threat to the state: no national security violations or missile codes here. He took his life under this intense pressure. He was *never* convicted in a court of law. Nothing was ever proved. Now those doing the harrassment, enticing those threats, threatening his civil liberties are desperate to not have their civil liberties threatened. They are desperate to not be 'named and shamed'. Why not? Sunlight is always the best disinfectant. If they are not ashamed of their actions, certainly they should be willing to step out into the light of day and stand by them. If their conduct was honorable and upstanding, then they should feel absolutely no shame at all in what they did. On the other hand, if they are weasily little cowards, backstabing rat bastards hiding in the shadows, then they would want to hide in dark places like slimy little worms, afraid to have their deeds exposed to public scrutiny. Fess up! Stand and be counted. Be accountable for your actions! Quit being the slimy worm!

  • Re:Translation: (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:55PM (#43321585)

    Or more accurately, what does the GP have against JSTOR's low-ranking IT admin who found the access log when requested? [...] when that IT admin can't get a job

    To shun someone who played a tiny role in this affair, for actions that seemed completely harmless, without any knowledge of the deeper moral implications ... may actually be worthwhile. It's not as good as prosecuting and imprisoning the decision-makers, but that's never going to happen - and it's still not as bad as what happened to Aaron Swartz.

    If people could be figuratively lynched for unknowingly aiding their bosses in morally unsound actions, they might be more inclined to question their orders. Mob rule is less selective, less proportional and more frequently mistaken than real justice, but when the justice system can't be trusted to do the right thing ... maybe the mob is better than nothing.

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

    by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:07AM (#43322357)

    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.

    More accurately, do you have anything to support this tautology that Anonymous would go after the bystanders in this affair, rather than the ringleaders who decided to "make an example" by blowing up a trespassing case into a 35 year prison sentence?

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

    by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:24AM (#43323197) Homepage Journal

    You have made some interesting arguments, but they are mostly wrong. Let's take them one by one...

    In any case, it doesn't help anything when Anonymous and Lulzsec make threats.

    Yes, it does. This response and the principal actors wanting to keep their identities secret is a testament to how much influence these threats have. These criminals with badges are scared. I am glad that there is at least fear to keep their abuse of power in check.

    Personally I liked the Guy Fawkes image that V put out, but Anonymous doesn't fit it at all, in fact they ruin it if anything.

    On the contrary, they are improving it. Guy Fawkes was nothing but a Catholic and a failure. He was caught in the attempt and hanged as a criminal. In addition, he had a cause that few today would identify as a righteous one. Anonymous, by contrast, has fought against government corruption, the Zetas, and even rapists. They are much more upstanding than Guy Fawkes ever imagined being.

    Would V espouse silencing his opposition? That's what anonymous does when they DDoS.

    IIRC, V was entirely intent upon revenge: "V for Vendetta". He silenced everybody that had any possibility of opposing his plan, but not with a DDoS. His opponents' silence was a bit more permanent.

    It seemed to me that V wanted to bring justice and empower the oppressed, if not he would have killed or at least silenced those detectives who were actively working against him, yet he didn't do either.

    The detectives were a tool he used. Viewing himself as evil, he wanted to remove himself from the new world he had created, so he used the detective as a tool to kill himself. The detective was no more in control of himself than Brad Pitt's character was in Seven. While V's revenge had the element of justice, it really was an act of revenge concocted by a brilliant, semi-sane, suicidal freak. Anonymous, on the other hand, has mostly been motivated by injustice or entertainment. Either one is less damnable than revenge or suicidal insanity.

    Therefore, I must reject your arguments until you base them upon a more solid foundation.

  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:39AM (#43323253) Homepage Journal

    JSTOR didn't do it. They asked DoJ to stop.

    That is the lie JSTOR wants everyone to believe. While they claimed to be dropping the case, they were pushing MIT to prosecute -- repeatedly. They must have learned from Adobe's treatment of Sklyarov []. Like all corporations, they want to keep their reprehensible activities out of the spotlight. This is why they are pushing for anonymity. They can hide and claim it really was not their fault. In fact, they are the principal puppet master for this whole show. And in the end, they will be seen as having no guilt. This is both the worst possible and most probable outcome.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton