MIT to Release Redacted Documents in Aaron Swartz Case

President Rafael Reif says the university will protect the names and network information to ensure campus safety.

MIT President Rafael Reif released a statement today announcing the university’s decision to release documents pertaining to the Aaron Swartz case. On Friday, lawyers representing the Swartz family filed a request in Boston federal court demanding access to documents that would have been part of the proceedings if Swartz’s case had gone to trial.

MIT has agreed to release some documents, but will redact the documents to protect the identities of people involved in the investigation as well as to ensure that information about vulnerabilities to the university’s network is not released. Citing a recent string of hacks on their networks and a bomb threat hoax linked to the Swartz case last month, Reif stated he wanted to protect the safety of his staff while still remaining true to their commitment to openness. In an email to the MIT community, he writes:

In the time since Aaron Swartz’s suicide, we have seen a pattern of harassment and personal threats. In this volatile atmosphere, I have the responsibility to protect the privacy and safety of those members of our community who have become involved in this matter in the course of doing their jobs for MIT, and to ensure a safe environment for all of us who call MIT home.

Therefore — in the spirit of openness, balanced with responsibility — we will release the requested MIT documents, redacting employee names and identifying information as appropriate to protect their privacy, as well as redacting information about network vulnerabilities. We will release these documents at the same time that we release Professor Abelson’s report.

Professor Hal Abelson is leading the investigation on campus, and it is anticipated that the investigation will wrap sometime in the spring.