Apparently in tribute to Aaron Swartz, the technology pioneer and digital freedom advocate who committed suicide last week, anonymous hackers briefly shut down the websites of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Justice.

According to a piece by Tyler Kingkade at the Huffington Post:

Internet activists with the group Anonymous claimed credit for hacking the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website Sunday, in memoriam of the Aaron Swartz, the Reddit co-founder who recently committed suicide.

Reddit users reported the entire domain was down, including their school email service. The backup emergency site,, was reportedly down too.

This image replaced the normal MIT site:

The group also shut down the U.S. Department of Justice’s website. Swartz was battling with the DOJ for more than a year over allegations he illegally downloaded approximately four million scientific documents at MIT’s campus….

The statement that briefly replaced MIT’s website read:

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.

MIT’s normal website was back up Sunday evening.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer