The Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Sunday posted a statement online emailed by President L. Rafael Reif to the MIT community (faculty, staff and students) announcing an investigation into the institution's conduct in and surrounding the legal proceedings filed by the U.S. government against Internet activist Aaron Swartz, 26, who took his own life last week and was found in his New York apartment Sunday.
MIT Professor Hal Abelson, one of Swartz's colleagues on the Creative Commons project, will lead the investigation, Boing Boing notes. Reif writes:
"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.
I hope we will all reach out to those members of our community we know who may have been affected by Aaron’s death. As always, MIT Medical is available to provide expert counseling, but there is no substitute for personal understanding and support."
Swartz had been charged in 2011 on 13 accounts including computer and wire fraud for allegedly illegally accessing and downloading 4.8 million articles the JSTOR article database from an MIT computer. Swartz was not a student at MIT but had several friends on campus, according to reports.
On Monday, Massachusetts prosecutors dropped all charges against Swartz, citing his suicide. Swartz's family released a statement earlier implicating MIT and federal prosecutors in his death. MIT's website was also reportedly downed Sunday evening in a retaliatory hack, according to the New York Times.