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View Diary: Aaron Swartz' Death Is Our Legacy (262 comments)

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  •  seems to me that we need publicly fund this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, Bluehawk, Just Bob

    if the research is already funded by the public, those who can't afford to pay the fees shouldn't be denied access.

    if we can fund wars and the oil industry, we can fund this.

    and we shouldn't be driving a man who pursued equal access to suicide.

    but, my mistake not realizing JSTOR is not-for profit.

    •  Don't mistake not-for-profit as meaning that they (6+ / 0-)

      are not in it for the money.  There a plenty of entities organized as not-for-profits that make a lot of money for those running the show.

      The results of publicly funded research should be freely available to the public.

    •  JSTOR released the articles (15+ / 0-)
      News of Swartz's suicide came only days after Jstor announced this week that it would make "more than 4.5 million articles" publicly available for free.
      http://news.cnet.com/...
      And this network was like an open closet.  Read the article by the person who was going to testify in his defense as an expert witness.

      This prosecution was ridiculous and wrongful. It wasn't even a crime.  I'm going to write some more about this.  I can't get it off of my mind. I was going to just include it in my morning diary but that is not enough.

      The facts:

      MIT operates an extraordinarily open network. Very few campus networks offer you a routable public IP address via unauthenticated DHCP and then lack even basic controls to prevent abuse. Very few captured portals on wired networks allow registration by any vistor, nor can they be easily bypassed by just assigning yourself an IP address. In fact, in my 12 years of professional security work I have never seen a network this open.
      In the spirit of the MIT ethos, the Institute runs this open, unmonitored and unrestricted network on purpose. Their head of network security admitted as much in an interview Aaron’s attorneys and I conducted in December. MIT is aware of the controls they could put in place to prevent what they consider abuse, such as downloading too many PDFs from one website or utilizing too much bandwidth, but they choose not to.  
      MIT also chooses not to prompt users of their wireless network with terms of use or a definition of abusive practices.
      At the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A network. The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to prevent what they might consider abusive behavior, such as CAPTCHAs triggered on multiple downloads, requiring accounts for bulk downloads, or even the ability to pop a box and warn a repeat downloader.
      Aaron did not “hack” the JSTOR website for all reasonable definitions of “hack”. Aaron wrote a handful of basic python scripts that first discovered the URLs of journal articles and then used curl to request them. Aaron did not use parameter tampering, break a CAPTCHA, or do anything more complicated than call a basic command line tool that downloads a file in the same manner as right-clicking and choosing “Save As” from your favorite browser.
      Aaron did nothing to cover his tracks or hide his activity, as evidenced by his very verbose .bash_history, his uncleared browser history and lack of any encryption of the laptop he used to download these files. Changing one’s MAC address (which the government inaccurately identified as equivalent to a car’s VIN number) or putting a mailinator email address into a captured portal are not crimes. If they were, you could arrest half of the people who have ever used airport wifi.
      The government provided no evidence that these downloads caused a negative effect on JSTOR or MIT, except due to silly overreactions such as turning off all of MIT’s JSTOR access due to downloads from a pretty easily identified user agent.
      I cannot speak as to the criminal implications of accessing an unlocked closet on an open campus, one which was also used to store personal effects by a homeless man. I would note that trespassing charges were dropped against Aaron and were not part of the Federal case.
      http://unhandled.com/...


      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 04:39:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm right there with you. I don't think I can let (7+ / 0-)

        this one go.

        What this admin did to Aaron is unforgivable and unjustifiable.

        It is also their status quo. Our country is the dystopia we read about or see in SciFi stories all the time. We barely even have the veneer of real democracy any longer.

      •  But Carmen Ortiz still thought it was a crime (5+ / 0-)

        Some people have a lot to answer for.  It makes you wonder if this young man was targeted by the DOJ for reasons other than this particular incident.  Perhaps they wanted to make an example of him - Occupy-style.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:02:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  we need to remember that he was a leading (8+ / 0-)

          activist for an open-source internet.

          I think his fight against SOPA was more in the craw of the powers-that-be than this JSTORS/MIT incident.

          This is what abusive powers do. They find any way to go after you they can. They seek the way that is most likely to fall under the radar or has any possibility of being spun so that they can appear to be pursuing their law. ('cause the laws really aren't meant for us peons. it's all about serving those already in power.)

          •  Thanks for the clarification (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stargaze, UnaSpenser, Just Bob, joanneleon

            There was likely much more donor pressure related to that activism.  This young man's death should make them reconsider.

            Citizen's United is ruining our government.

            Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

            by Betty Pinson on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:13:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is of course (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stargaze, shaharazade, dionys1, Just Bob

          speculation, but that's exactly where my intuition goes -- make an example of him.

          Cyberterrorism is all the rage in our government and in our Dept. of Defense.  Money and contracts are flying toward it.  

          We've got what looks to me like almost a paranoia in our government about this subject, and a paranoia about uprising of citizens, protesters, both online and off.  Una makes a really good point about SOPA/PIPA. It's like the zombie legislation that never dies.  They keep bringing it back in different forms.  

          We've got an intensely secretive government and people who would uncover and disclose things, whistleblowers, hackers -- they are considered the enemy.  They seem to be just as intense in their targeting of such people as they are with terrorists.  Secrecy is an essential for our government to continue operating in the manner that it has been operating.  

          Look at the militarization of our local law enforcement agencies and the classification of peaceful protesters as terrorists.  

          Look at the obsession with surveillance -- domestic surveillance.  

          It's widely known that the internet, social media, are used for organization by the little guys against the obscenely powerful state.  Guys like Aaron were innovators who would always be creating new tools in the area of freedom of speech, sharing of information, etc.  

          It's hard not to connect dots and wonder if he was being made an example of. After all, MIT had asked the government to drop the charges.  He was a dissident and dissidents throughout our history or at least at certain eras in our history have been considered as enemies.  And this is one of those eras.  


          "Justice is a commodity"

          by joanneleon on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:01:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes, intensely secretive government (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade, Just Bob
            Una makes a really good point about SOPA/PIPA. It's like the zombie legislation that never dies.  They keep bringing it back in different forms.  

            We've got an intensely secretive government and people who would uncover and disclose things, whistleblowers, hackers -- they are considered the enemy.

            The boss needs you, you don't need him. -- France general strike, May 1968

            by stargaze on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:03:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  That's not the whole story. (0+ / 0-)

        Neither is this, probably, but it does tell us it wasn't just some innocent activity:

        In 2011, however, Mr. Swartz went beyond that, according to a federal indictment. In an effort to provide free public access to JSTOR, he broke into computer networks at M.I.T. by means that included gaining entry to a utility closet on campus and leaving a laptop that signed into the university network under a false account, federal officials said.

        Mr. Swartz turned over his hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and JSTOR declined to pursue the case. But Carmen M. Ortiz, a United States attorney, pressed on, saying that “stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:36:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stealing is stealing... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marvinborg, taonow, Emmy, emal

          Unless you do it from the inside on Wall Street or as part of the MIC, then well you get away with it, and are probably invited to the White House to help write legislation.  

          President Obama would have been a Republican in the 1980's.

          by Jacoby Jonze on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:49:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ugh. he didn't steal anything private. he made (11+ / 0-)

            public domain documents accessible to the public.

            all he did was get public material out from behind an access barrier.

            JSTORS ultimately recognized this and asked for the charges to be dropped.

            And, recently, they themselves removed the access barrier and made every document he shared publicly accessible.

            So, tell me again, what the justification for trying to put this young man in jail for 35 years was? and the relentless tormenting of him to his death?

            •  I was quoting Carmen Ortiz... (4+ / 0-)

              and pointing out the ridiculousness of her hardline stance against Swartz.

              President Obama would have been a Republican in the 1980's.

              by Jacoby Jonze on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 06:58:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ok. thank you for clarifying. Thought you were (0+ / 0-)

                supporting Neurooptimalian's stance that Aaron was a criminal who deserved how he was treated.

                •  I haven't said he "deserved" anything. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sviscusi

                  I AM saying that there's more to the story.

                  "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

                  by Neuroptimalian on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 07:33:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  no. there isn't really. everyone involved seems (0+ / 0-)

                    to be very clear. were you involved and have inside information?

                    •  "Involved"? No. (0+ / 0-)

                      Do I know for a fact that there's more to the story?  Yes.  Will I get into the details?  No, they'll be revealed soon enough through authorized sources.

                      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

                      by Neuroptimalian on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:28:22 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  How much will be factual? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        emal, shaharazade

                        And how much will be a disinformation campaign against a young man no longer alive to defend himself?

                        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

                        by Betty Pinson on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:49:12 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Authorized sources? (0+ / 0-)

                        lordy that's rich considering that this whole horrible miscarriage of justice was all about making information and knowledge for free public access. 'Authorized sources' meaning whatever total bs. the DoJ decides merit's prosecuting and persecuting someone who fought for open sources not authorized ones. What gets me is that people defend this. Nothing belongs to the public anymore the only authorized recourses are all owned and for profit. Public is a dirty word these days it's a crime to access anything that bypasses the walls set up by the owners of the place after all were not authorized.  

                        •  Regardless, the actual surveillance photos ... (0+ / 0-)

                          of Swartz's break-in at MIT, including some that show him attempting to hide his face, have made it to the Internet in today's news, thus his acts and consciousness of guilt are no longer arguable.

                          Facts are facts, and illegal acts have consequences.  Individuals seldom get a pass because of the "honorable" intent of their acts.  What's the old adage?  "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time"?

                          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

                          by Neuroptimalian on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 03:03:41 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

        •  He didn't break into anything (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          UnaSpenser, Lady Libertine, stargaze

          MIT had an open network.  And JSTOR allowed anyone on MIT's network to download those documents for free.

          It doesn't surprise me at all that the NYT got it wrong though and that they toed the government line and put it on the front page.  It would not surprise me at all if the DoJ and/or the US Attorney's office has a damage control operation going on right now.  

          Read the article from the man who was going to be an expert witness at the trial, a cybersecurity expert who explains how it all went down.  He has all the forensic information about the case. He's looked at the history and knows the commands and scripts that were used to download the academic journal articles.   He has no conflict of interest and did not know Swartz personally nor would he normally come down on the same side of things politically as Swartz would so it's not even ideological.  

          It's a matter of integrity though and he wants the truth out there.

          He specifically says that there are a lot of people out there saying and writing things out of ignorance and misinformation.  

          The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

          I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person’s entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron’s family during what must be the hardest time of their lives.

          If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no longer defend himself. I had hoped to ask Aaron to discuss these issues on the Defcon stage once he was acquitted, but now that he has passed it is important that his memory not be besmirched by the ignorant and uninformed. I have confirmed with Aaron’s attorneys that I am free to discuss these issues now that the criminal case is moot.


          "Justice is a commodity"

          by joanneleon on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:14:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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