Following the death of internet activist Aaron Swartz over the weekend, Anonymous has attacked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and announced that it is targeting the US Department of Justice.
Swartz was a co-author of an early version of the RSS technology, an internet freedom activist and early developer of Reddit. He died on Friday. He had been facing charges over the download of millions of academic papers from online archive JSTOR, which he denied, and was due to face trial next month.
Following a statement was issued by MIT president Rafael Reif saying that it would fully analyse "MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present", Anonymous defaced two MIT websites, as detailed by Cnet.
Its message called the prosecution of Swartz "a grotesque miscarriage of justice" and "a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for".
It named four goals that it wanted to achieve in the wake of Swartz's death. These were:
- To be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them
- To be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few
- To be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response
- To be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all.
According to a Pastebin statement, Anonymous is also launching ‘Operation Angel', part of which will be after Swartz's funeral when it "intends to pursue reform within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies to prevent the kind of unnecessary harassment that Aaron Swartz was victim to".
It said: “Some of the brightest men and women in the fields of information technology and security are being targeted by agencies that lack a basic understanding of the so-called crimes they are accusing people of. We will do this for Aaron Swartz and everyone like him.”