The real reason behind MIT’s “incoherent” stance on the Aaron Swartz case

In the wake of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, MIT commissioned a report on its handling of the incident. Unsurprisingly, the report claims MIT is not responsible [PDF] for Swartz’s prosecution and death although it does kinda sorta question MIT’s neutral stance in the matter.

The question now is why did MIT take such a neutral stance? This wasn’t the first time such an incident has happened there. Back in 1994 an MIT student named David LaMacchia used a university workstation to set up a file server to transfer software and computer games. The US Attorney wanted to go after LaMacchia the way they did Swartz but MIT refused to follow along. But no one at MIT today has any recollection of the LaMacchia incident and how it was handled. So they chose to do nothing at all.

MIT would like to think itself on the forefront of information technology, but its response reeks of corporate bureaucracy and inaction. And Aaron Swartz is dead.

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