Hacking group Anonymous has taken over part of MIT’s website to post a tribute to Aaron Swartz and call for reforms to computer crime and intellectual property laws.

On Sunday evening (US time), cogen.mit.edu and rledev.mit.edu were changed to display Anonymous’ message, which can also be read in a press release posted to PasteBin.

“Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for – freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it – enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing – an ideal that we should all support,” the statement read.

MIT Anonymous 730x421 Anonymous hacks MIT web pages in tribute to Aaron Swartz

Swartz, an outspoken activist who helped establish the RSS standard when he was 14 and also played a part in the founding of Reddit, committed suicide last week at age 26. Prior to his death, he had been prosecuted for downloading millions of papers from academic database JSTOR via MIT’s network. Swartz’s family has said in a statement that decisions by officials in the Massachusett’s US Attorney’s Office and MIT had contributed to his death. MIT’s president has committed to an investigation into the university’s role in the case.

Anonymous has stopped short of blaming or holding MIT responsible for Swartz’s death, even going so far as to apologize to MIT’s administrators for the “temporary use of their websites”, instead calling for mourners to acknowledge a collective responsibility to “build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud, and honour the ideals and dedication that burnt so brightly within him by embodying them in thought and word and action.”

The hacktivist group ended its statement with: “You were the best of us; may you yet bring out the best in us.”

See also: RIP, Aaron Swarz

Image credit: Daniel J. Sieradski