The Day We Fight Back – Big Internet Protest Against the NSA is Planned for Tomorrow

Tomorrow, a large coalition of privacy and civil liberties concerned organizations and companies will launch a grassroots campaign to stop illegal NSA spying called “The Day We Fight Back.” The organizers of this event are a diverse bunch, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Demand Progress, Mozilla, Campaign for Liberty, the ACLU and many, many more.

The protest is encouraging websites to put up a banner that will highlight ways to call and email your Congressional representatives in order to push them to support the USA Freedom Act, the only NSA focused legislation currently moving through Congress that actually has teeth to it in order to defend the 4th Amendment.

Liberty Blitzkrieg will be participating in this protest.

The organization describes its action as follows:

DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.

WHAT WE’LL DO ON FEBRUARY 11th:

If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress. We’ll ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support the USA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.

If you’re not in the US: Visitors will be asked to urge appropriate targets to institute privacy protections.

The Hill covered the protest. Here are some excerpts:

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

A Year Ago Today We Lost Aaron Swartz – R.I.P.

Exactly one year ago today, the world lost a kind, brilliant and courageous human being. Aaron Swartz, who had already accomplished so much in his short time with us, was driven to suicide by an out of control, unenlightened and increasingly fascistic government, determined to prosecute this gentle genius.

In remembrance of Aarron, I am reposting in full, the post I wrote about him and his story shortly after his death one year ago titled: Remembering Internet Prodigy and Activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013): Your Life is an Inspiration.

Rest in Peace.

Remembering Internet Prodigy and Activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013): Your Life is an Inspiration

It takes a person like Aaron Swartz to remind you how little you are actually doing to bring forth social, political and economic justice in this increasingly insane and sick world.  I’m not exaggerating when I say his life was an inspiration.   At 14 years old he helped start the RSS feed system, which so many now use to read content online.  He also co-founded Reddit, and its sale to Conde Nast is what afforded him the resources to dedicate his life to the defense of a free and open internet.  His most remarkable success in this regard was the creation of the organization Demand Progress, which was instrumental in defeating the internet censorship bill know as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act).

He ran afoul of the law due to his actions in the fall of 2010 when he downloaded millions of academic journal articles from the nonprofit online database JSTOR.  While JSTOR could have pursued charges against Aaron for his activities, they decided against it.  However, our Federal Government was not so kind.  They decided to make an example of Aaron and charged him with multiple felonies.  Charges that carried up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.  Aaron was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment this past Friday, in an apparent suicide.

If you had asked me about Aaron Swartz three days ago I could have told you none of the above.  This is despite the fact that I now spend pretty much all of my time trying to read through news and understand the true nature of the world around me.  Even more pathetically, it is despite the fact that a close friend of mine had met Aaron this past summer and was trying to coordinate a time for us all to meet.  Sadly, we never connected.

As part of my tribute to Aaron, I will commit myself even more fully to the cause of freedom in America.  I spent the last 12 hours reading about him and I have compiled some of the most interesting excerpts from various sources below.  Please take the time.

First from the official statement from his family and partner:

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

Next from Lawrence Lessig, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and friend of Aaron.  He writes:

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

From the Huffington Post:

Swartz spent the last two years fighting federal hacking charges. In July 2011, prosecutor Scott Garland working under U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, a politician with her eye on the governor’s mansion, charged Swartz with four counts of felony misconduct — charges that were deemed outrageous by internet experts who understood the case, and wholly unnecessary by the parties Swartz was accused of wronging.

Swartz repeatedly sought to reduce the charges to a level below felony status, but prosecutors pressed on, adding additional charges so that by September 2012 Swartz faced 13 felony counts and up to half a century in prison.

Swartz’s friend Henry Farrell, a political scientist at George Washington University, also pointed at the DOJ. “They sought felony convictions with decades of prison time for actions which, if they were illegal at all, were at most misdemeanors.”

Had JSTOR wanted to pursue civil charges against Swartz for breach of contract, it could have. But JSTOR did not, and washed its hands of the whole affair.

Last June, Swartz told HuffPost that both JSTOR and MIT had advised prosecutors they were not interested in pursuing criminal or civil charges.

But the government pressed on, interpreting Swartz’s actions as a federal crime, alleging mass theft, damaged computers and wire fraud, and suggesting that Swartz stood to gain financially.

JSTOR issued a statement late on Saturday expressing regret at Swartz’s passing, criticizing his prosecution.

“The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge,” the statement reads. “At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011.”

From Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian:

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

How Edward Snowden Helped Kill CISPA (for now)

If you forgot about CISPA, it’s the latest version of the internet spying bill that Congress has been trying to pass for years. So not only did Edward Snowden alert the American public and the world of the extraordinarily unconstitutional and immoral activities of the NSA and U.S. government, his information also stopped CISPA dead in its tracks…at least for now.  It seems the plan is to reintroduce the bill in the fall, by which time the powers that be assume the S&P 500 will be up another 200 points and the public won’t even remember what the NSA is.  From The Verge:

US lawmakers have been trying for the past two years to pass new bills that would set up information sharing programs between tech companies and the government. But those bills, including the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), look like they will be spending even more time in legislative limbo. Bloomberg news reports today that House and Senate lawmakers are holding back on introducing their own versions of CISPA or similar cyber information sharing legislation till at least this fall, due primarily to the public outcry following the revelations of the NSA’s secret internet spying program PRISM and its surveillance of millions of personal phone records.

The revelations of the NSA’s surveillance programs, which occurred in early June through leaked documents published in the Guardian, “probably couldn’t have come at a worse time,” for Senate cyber bill prospects, as Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Bloomberg. McCaul, a backer of CISPA who in 2012 also tried to introduce another separate bill that would increase funding for training government cybersecurity specialists, is just one of several lawmakers who is delaying introducing new bill proposals because they are worried there is no public appetite for expanding government cyber programs in the wake of the NSA leaks. 

Just another reason to be eternally thankful for Mr. Edward Snowden.  Stay safe sir.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

Follow me on Twitter!

Taiwanese Fight Back Against Internet Censorship and Win!

Great update here from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), of the outcome from government attempts to censor the internet in Taiwan in a similar manner to what was proposed in the U.S. with SOPA/PIPA. Just goes to show that we can stop these authoritarians if we stand up for ourselves.  From the EFF:  

Taiwan’s intellectual property office proposed a new Internet blacklist law that would have targeted websites for their alleged use in copyright infringement. The initiative would have forced Internet Service Providers to block a list of domains or IP addresses connected to websites and services found to enable “illegal” file sharing. In the face of massive online opposition and a planned Internet blackout, the IP office has now backed down and abandoned support for the law.

Taiwanese users were going to stage an Internet black out on Tuesday June 4th. Several websites, including Wikipedia Taiwan and Mozilla Taiwan pledged to go dark in order to raise awareness. At the time this was written, more than 45,000 people had shown their commitment to protest the bill.

Continue reading

Stop CISPA: The Internet Spying Bill is Back in Congress

If at first you don’t succeed in implementing total state surveillance on your citizenry, try and try again.  These guys are just unbelievable.  From the EFF:

It’s official: The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives yesterday. CISPA is the contentious bill civil liberties advocates fought last year, which would provide a poorly-defined “cybersecurity” exception to existing privacy law. CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

As others have noted, “CISPA is deeply flawed. Under a broad cybersecurity umbrella, it permits companies to share user communications directly with the super secret NSA and permits the NSA to use that information for non-cybersecurity reasons. This risks turning the cybersecurity program into a back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability.”

The EFF sums up its most pressing concerns in the following bullet points:

1) Companies have new rights to monitor user actions and share data—including potentially sensitive user data—with the government without a warrant.

2) CISPA overrides existing privacy law, and grants broad immunities to participating companies.

3) CISPA also raises major transparency and accountability issues.

4) Users probably won’t know if their private data is compromised under CISPA, and will have little recourse.

In honor of Aaron Swartz, let’s please stop CISPA.

For more detail on the above concerns click here.

In Liberty,
Mike

Follow me on Twitter!

Remembering Internet Prodigy and Activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013): Your Life is an Inspiration

It takes a person like Aaron Swartz to remind you how little you are actually doing to bring forth social, political and economic justice in this increasingly insane and sick world.  I’m not exaggerating when I say his life was an inspiration.   At 14 years old he helped start the RSS feed system, which so many now use to read content online.  He also co-founded Reddit, and its sale to Conde Nast is what afforded him the resources to dedicate his life to the defense of a free and open internet.  His most remarkable success in this regard was the creation of the organization Demand Progress, which was instrumental in defeating the internet censorship bill know as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act).

He ran afoul of the law due to his actions in the fall of 2010 when he downloaded millions of academic journal articles from the nonprofit online database JSTOR.  While JSTOR could have pursued charges against Aaron for his activities, they decided against it.  However, our Federal Government was not so kind.  They decided to make an example of Aaron and charged him with multiple felonies.  Charges that carried up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.  Aaron was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment this past Friday, in an apparent suicide.

If you had asked me about Aaron Swartz three days ago I could have told you none of the above.  This is despite the fact that I now spend pretty much all of my time trying to read through news and understand the true nature of the world around me.  Even more pathetically, it is despite the fact that a close friend of mine had met Aaron this past summer and was trying to coordinate a time for us all to meet.  Sadly, we never connected.

As part of my tribute to Aaron, I will commit myself even more fully to the cause of freedom in America.  I spent the last 12 hours reading about him and I have compiled some of the most interesting excerpts from various sources below.  Please take the time.

First from the official statement from his family and partner:

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

Next from Lawrence Lessig, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and friend of Aaron.  He writes:

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

From the Huffington Post:

Continue reading