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Tag Archive: Aaron Swartz


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In Memoriam of Aaron Swartz and his dream to make the world a better place

Swartz smiling

11/8/1986 – 01/11/2013

 

Aaron is dead.

Wanderers in this crazy world,

We have lost a mentor , a wise elder. 

Hackers for right, we are one down,

we  have lost one of our own.

Nurturers, carers, listeners,

feeders, parents all,

we have lost a child.

Let us all weep.

~Sir Tim Berners-Lee, January 11th 2013

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Fight for the Future

 

 

Evan from FFTF

info@list.fightforthefuture.org

 

We gave every member of U.S. Congress a “grade” based on how they’ve voted on laws that affect your privacy and freedom. Click here to see how yours scored! You might be surprised.

 

So many politicians blatantly push for policies that harm all of us, just because the special interests that fund their campaigns want them to.

Because of this, Congress tries to hide — taking vague positions, pushing for watered down legislation, or remaining silent at critical moments.

This week, they’re expected to renew debate on CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill that would give corporations sweeping legal immunity when they share your data with the government.

Now more than ever, it’s so important that we don’t let our lawmakers hide in the shadows.

Click here to find out where your members of Congress stand on government spying and abuse!

This scoreboard is a tool we can use to hold politicians accountable and demand they stand up for our basic human and Constitutional rights.

Surveillance will define our future. Let’s make sure the future isn’t terrible.

Click here to see how your representatives measure up, and tell them to oppose CISA!

For the Internet,

~Evan at Fight for the Future

P.S. As much as we’ve talked about how bad CISA is for expanding mass surveillance, there’s another side to the law that just made it even worse. Late last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced an amendment to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law that has been used time and again to persecute digital activists, including our friend Aaron Swartz. That’s despicable, and needs to be quashed immediately — so take action now to help kill CISA.


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Aaron Swartz files reveal how FBI tracked internet activist

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz. The FBI also collected information from his Facebook and Linkedin profiles. Photograph: Noah Berger/Reuters

A blogger has published once-classified FBI files that show how the agency tracked and collected information on internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Swartz, who killed himself in January aged 26, had previously requested his files and posted them on his blog, but some new documents and redactions are included in the files published by Firedoglake blogger Daniel Wright.

Wright was given 21 of 23 declassified documents, thanks to a rule that declassifies FBI files on the deceased. Wright said that he was told the other two pages of documents were not provided because of freedom of information subsections concerning privacy, “sources and methods,” and that can “put someone’s life in danger.”

The FBI’s files concern Swartz’s involvement in accessing the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (Pacer) documents. In pursuit of their investigation, the FBI had collected his personal information and was surveilling an Illinois address where he had his IP address registered.

Aaron H. Swartz FBI File by Daniel Wright

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Carl Malamud Unredacts Himself and Others In Aaron Swartz’s FBI File

By: Wednesday February 20, 2013 7:47 am

In response to Firedoglake’s release of Aaron Swartz’s FBI file Carl Malamud, a person named in the New York Times story referenced in the FBI file, went on to Boing Boing’s coverage of the story and posted a link to a PDF he prepared.

The PDF contains names superimposed over the official redactions made by the FBI, including Malamud’s name which was poorly veiled when the FBI redacted it within a block quote of a publicly available New York Times article within Swartz’s file.

These are not official disclosures they are Malamud’s stated views on the names that were redacted.

Note the name of the Times reporter and Mr. Malamud who was featured in the story and the censored quote.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Anonymous hacked US State Dept, investment firm in homage to Aaron Swartz, Lulzsec

 

RT

February 20, 2013 00:44
AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt

AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt

Anonymous has announced it gained access to the State Department’s website, captured a database, and published it online. It also entered the site of investment firm George K. Baum & Company – all in the name of Aaron Swartz and Lulzsec.

The databases which they claimed to have obtained were posted on ZeroBin website. The data dump is part of “round five” of “Operation Last Resort” – Anonymous’ anti-US campaign which was launched shortly after the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz.

The group published the names and email addresses of State Department consular and careers staff members. In some cases, their phone numbers and date of birth were also revealed.

Anonymous also defaced the website of George K. Baum and Company, adding a page which linked to the firm’s client and user account credentials, passwords, phone numbers, and access to transaction information.

The group pointed out that the company is linked to Stratfor, a global intelligence firm whose systems were breached by Anonymous in December 2011.

The hacks appear to have been prompted by two things. First, they were to pay respect to Aaron Swartz – an internet activist who faced up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the alleged theft of online journals with the intent to post them online. Swartz hanged himself in his New York apartment last month, in the midst of his controversial case.

Secondly, the hacks appeared to be revenge for the arrests of members of the Lulzsec group – a hacking collective which has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile hacks, including Sony Pictures in 2011, SC Magazine reports.

 

 Read Full Article Here

 

 

Published on Apr 18, 2012

Dir: Mareike Wegener, Germany, 80 min, 2011, Documentary
Brooklyn based artist Mark Lombardi created graphic artwork portraying the opaque global network of financial and political elites, including their…
http://www.brooklynfilmfestival.org/films/detail.asp?fid=1219

March 2000

Eight months before an idiot son of the Bush crime family “won” election for president…

A year before Osama bin Laden became famous for 9-11…

Mark Lombardi, who had just achieved a major breakthrough in his career as an artist, reportedly hanged himself in his Brooklyn studio.

His art form?

Drawing intricately detailed diagrams of the relationship between the Bush family and its allies, the Bin Laden family, and other global criminals.

If there are people who commit political murders and then stage them to look like suicides – and there are – don’t you think that it’s quite a coincidence than Aaron Swartz – a very positive, resourceful, and intelligent young man who was co-owner of a major social media network – died the very same way?

It’s all just a big coincidence.’

BrassCheckTV

 

 

 

Mark Lombardi and the Ecstasy of Conspiracy


Detail, Mark Lombardi, George W. Bush, Harken Energy, and Jackson Stephens, ca. 1979-90 (5th version), 1999

With the 40th anniversary of the assassination of JFK freshly behind us, our abiding romance with conspiracy theories seems more ardent than ever. And one of the most remarkable expressions of that romance is on view at The Drawing Center in New York, “Global Networks,” an exhibition of the work of Mark Lombardi. In an age where we all dimly sense that The Truth Is Out There, Lombardi’s extraordinary drawings aim to provide all the answers.

Although Lombardi’s work has combined the mesmerizing detail of the engineering diagram and the obsessive annotation of the outsider artist, the man was neither scientist nor madman. Armed with a BA in art history, he began as a researcher and archivist in the Houston fine arts community with a passing interest in corporate scandal, financial malfeasance, and the hidden web of connections that seemed to connect, for instance, the Mafia, the Vatican bank, and the 1980’s savings and loan debacle. His initial explorations were narrative, but in 1993 he made the discovery that some kinds of information are best expressed diagrammatically.

The resulting body of work must be seen to be believed — an admittedly oxymoronic endorsement of subject matter of such supreme skepticism. Lombardi’s delicate tracings, mostly in black pencil with the occasional red accent, cover enormous sheets of paper (many over four feet high and eight feet long), mapping the deliriously Byzantine relationships of, say, Oliver North, Lake Resources of Panama, and the Iran-Contra operation, or Global International Airways and the Indian Springs State Bank of Kansas City. Because the work visualizes connections rather than causality, Lombardi was able to take the same liberties as Harry Beck’s 1933 map for the London Underground, freely arranging the players to create gorgeous patterns: swirling spheres, hopscotching arcs, wheels within wheels.

 

Read Full Article Here

TheDailyConversation

Published on Jan 17, 2013

The Westboro Baptist Church’s plans to picket Aaron Schwarz’s funeral were scrapped after the internet-activist group Anonymous called for members to launch an all out assault on the Westboro Baptist church website if ‘religious group’ went through with their protest.

Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: accountability for prosecutorial abuse

 

Carmen Ortiz

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire for her office’s conduct in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. Photograph: US Department of Justice

Whenever an avoidable tragedy occurs, it’s common for there to be an intense spate of anger in its immediate aftermath which quickly dissipates as people move on to the next outrage. That’s a key dynamic that enables people in positions of authority to evade consequences for their bad acts. But as more facts emerge regarding the conduct of the federal prosecutors in the case of Aaron Swartz – Massachusetts’ US attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann – the opposite seems to be taking place: there is greater and greater momentum for real investigations, accountability and reform. It is urgent that this opportunity not be squandered, that this interest be sustained.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that – two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday – federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz’s lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he “would need to plead guilty to every count” and made clear that “the government would insist on prison time”. That made a trial on all 15 felony counts – with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted – a virtual inevitability.

Just three months ago, Ortiz’s office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which “carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony”, meaning “the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million.” That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced “a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers”.

Swartz’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz’s funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son “was killed by the government”.

Ortiz and Heymann continue to refuse to speak publicly about what they did in this case – at least officially. Yesterday, Ortiz’s husband, IBM Corp executive Thomas J. Dolan, took to Twitter and – without identifying himself as the US Attorney’s husband – defended the prosecutors’ actions in response to prominent critics, and even harshly criticized the Swartz family for assigning blame to prosecutors: “Truly incredible in their own son’s obit they blame others for his death”, Ortiz’s husband wrote. Once Dolan’s identity was discovered, he received assertive criticism and then sheepishly deleted his Twitter account.

Clearly, the politically ambitious Ortiz – who was touted just last month by the Boston Globe as a possible Democratic candidate for governor – is feeling serious heat as a result of rising fury over her office’s wildly overzealous pursuit of Swartz. The same is true of Heymann, whose father was Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration and who has tried to forge his own reputation as a tough-guy prosecutor who takes particular aim at hackers.

Yesterday, the GOP’s House Oversight Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa, announced a formal investigation into the Justice Department’s conduct in this case. Separately, two Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee issued stinging denunciations, with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis proclaiming that “the charges were ridiculous and trumped-up” and labeling Swartz a “martyr” for the evils of minimum sentencing guidelines, while Rep. Zoe Lofgren denounced the prosecutors’ behavior as “pretty outrageous” and “way out of line”.

A petition on the White House’s website to fire Ortiz quickly exceeded the 25,000 signatures needed to compel a reply, and a similar petition aimed at Heymann has also attracted thousands of signatures, and is likely to gather steam in the wake of revelations that another young hacker committed suicide in 2008 in response to Heymann’s pursuit of him (You can [and I hope will] sign both petitions by clicking on those links; the Heymann petition in particular needs more signatures).

In sum, as CNET’s Declan McCullagh detailed in a comprehensive article this morning, it is Ortiz who “has now found herself in an unusual – and uncomfortable – position: as the target of an investigation instead of the initiator of one.” And that’s exactly as it should be given that, as he documents, there is little question that her office sought to make an example out of Swartz for improper and careerist benefits. Swartz “was enhancing the careers of a group of career prosecutors and a very ambitious – politically-ambitious – U.S. attorney who loves to have her name in lights,” the Cambridge criminal lawyer Harvey Silverglate told McCullagh. Swartz’s lawyer said that Heymann “was going to receive press and he was going to be a tough guy and read his name in the newspaper.” Writes McCullagh:

“If Swartz had stolen a $100 hard drive with the JSTOR articles, it would have been a misdemeanor offense that would have yielded probation or community service. But the sweeping nature of federal computer crime laws allowed Ortiz and [] Heymann, who wanted a high-profile computer crime conviction, to pursue felony charges. Heymann threatened the diminutive free culture activist with over 30 years in prison as recently as last week.”

For numerous reasons, it is imperative that there be serious investigations about what took place here and meaningful consequences for this prosecutorial abuse, at least including firing. It is equally crucial that there be reform of the criminal laws and practices that enable this to take place in so many other cases and contexts.

To begin with, there has been a serious injustice in the Swartz case, and that alone compels accountability. Prosecutors are vested with the extraordinary power to investigate, prosecute, bankrupt, and use the power of the state to imprison people for decades. They have the corresponding obligation to exercise judgment and restraint in how that power is used. When they fail to do so, lives are ruined – or ended.

The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless – or especially, as in Swartz’s case, those who challenge power – are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions. All one has to do to see that this is true is to contrast the incredible leniency given by Ortiz’s office to large companies and executives accused of serious crimes with the indescribably excessive pursuit of Swartz.

This immunity for people with power needs to stop. The power of prosecutors is particularly potent, and abuse of that power is consequently devastating. Prosecutorial abuse is widespread in the US, and it’s vital that a strong message be sent that it is not acceptable. Swartz’s family strongly believes – with convincing rationale – that the abuse of this power by Ortiz and Heymann played a key role in the death of their 26-year-old son. It would be unconscionable to decide that this should be simply forgotten.

Beyond this specific case, the US government – as part of its war to vest control over the internet in itself and in corporate factions – has been wildly excessive, almost hysterical, in punishing even trivial and harmless activists who are perceived as “hackers”. The 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) – enacted in the midst of that decade’s hysteria over hackers – is so broad and extreme that it permits federal prosecutors to treat minor, victimless computer pranks – or even violations of a website’s “terms of service” – as major felonies, which is why Rep. Lofgren just announced her proposed “Aaron’s Law” to curb some of its abuses.

 

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