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Prosecutors, others involved in Swartz case express safety, privacy concerns

Jaikumar Vijayan | April 4, 2013
The U.S government and two other entities involved in investigations leading to the indictment of the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz have asked a federal court in Boston to redact the names of people involved in the case from documents being sought by Swartz's estate and by some lawmakers.

Pirozzolo noted that Heymann's home address, personal phone number and the names of family members and friends have been posted online and his Facebook page hacked since Swartz's death. He added that Heymann and his father had received postcards with an image depicting a man's head in a guillotine.

Pirozzolo said he had informed Swartz's attorney "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."

A similar motion filed by MIT noted that the university had no objection to certain documents being unsealed so long as it was given a chance to redact them first to protect "the privacy and safety" of members of the MIT community. The university said it also wanted to redact some information to prevent the disclosure of MIT network vulnerabilities to the public.

Kevin Guthrie, the president of Ithaka Harbors, called on the court to protect the identity of the company's employees. "A number of events since Mr. Swartz's death have caused JSTOR and our employees to be concerned for their safety and privacy," Guthrie said in an affidavit last week.

He pointed to the hacking of MIT's website and the site of the U.S. Sentencing Commission by those protesting Swartz's death as examples of the fallout from Swartz's death. "We also are aware of public reports of an anonymous call to MIT claiming that a gunman was on the campus to retaliate against people involved in Swartz's case," Guthrie said.

He claimed the company had received several threatening emails and other online messages after Swartz's suicide. "A number of JSTOR personnel have spoken with me to express concern that their safety and privacy could be compromised if their names were released in connection with this matter," he noted.


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