Aaron Swartz

A Tribute to Aaron Swartz

I would like to pause this investigation for a moment to discuss a matter possibly related to it.

http://www.fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/how-we-know-a-guide-on-counseling-children-about-sandy-hook-predated-the-massacre/#comment-164788

The world recently suffered a great loss, when it lost Aaron Swartz to suicide?

Aaron was like a beacon of shinning light in a mostly gray and foreboding world. He was highly intelligent and principled. He made all of our lives  brighter. He was in the forefront of the fight to keep the internet a place of openness and honesty rather than let it become a closed tool, only beneficial to powerful interests such as the mass media now is.

Aaron was directly responsible for helping create the RSS newsfeed standard that caused document 1, referred to in the investigation, linked to at the top of this article, to be discovered.

We do not know for sure who first discovered the existence of this document. However it happened, the discovery was a massive win for internet openness and freedom. Whoever that person was would need to have a deep understanding of how and where information is stored on the internet. Also of how information is indexed for easy retrieval.

Aaron was that type of individual. He also had the intent to serve Truth and Justice, particularly on the Internet.

If I had to pick just one person capable of making such a discovery I would pick Aaron.

The events at Sandy Hook likely attracted his attention. He would then start researching on the internet to find the truth, using the needed tools, which he was intimately familiar with.

RSS feeds, the standards of which he helped put in place, allow search engines to report news items created on the internet, about important events, almost instantly. Being an expert on how RSS feeds function, and where the records that such feeds create are stored, he then likely started to search through those records to see what he could find.

Aaron likely discovered the RSS feed record the Arlington Schools Website sent out that announced, rightly or wrongly, that the horrendous  events at Sandy Hook School occurred on December 10th, 2012, 4 days before they actually happened on December 14th 2012. Discovering the RSS record would have allowed Aaron to find the Google cache record displayed as evidence in our investigation, with only one click.

In the normal course of events it is highly unlikely anyone would ever have found that cache record.  Only the RSS record would publicly show it existed. To initially find the record directly in the cache would require someone knowing the document’s exact URL and name. If no one knew of the documents existence, they could not know what to look for.

Whoever the person was  that first found the document in Google’s cache, we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I strongly suspect Aaron was  actually the one to discover that record at Google. He likely paid for that discovery with his life.

With that highly likely possibility in mind I would like to dedicate this Investigation to Aaron. Whether or not he was the one who first found this record, his efforts in developing RSS feeds were instrumental in their being discovered.

We all owe it to Aaron to make sure that his efforts to make the world a better place were not in vain. We must continue the struggle he was engaged in, and attempt to build upon his efforts, until the world is a place of justice and honor such as he attempted to create.

This investigation would not be taking place without principled people like Aaron struggling to protect  everyone’s rights.

Aaron, Thank you.

Clan of the Copyright Bear Revisited

Off the keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Heros of the Revolution table inside the Diner

A LOOONNNNGGG time ago during the Napster controversy and procesutions being undertaken by the Music Recording Industry,Iwrote an article deconstructing Copyright Law over Intellectual Property called Clan of the Copyright Bear.  It is republished here on the Diner from original publication on one of my Yahoo Groups from back in the 90s.

The recent Suicide Murder of Aaron Swartz, a Computer Geek GENIUS who was attempting to Liberate Information on the net for public consumption has brought this issue back up to the Front Agenda in the current War on Liberty being prosecuted by TPTB on the rest of the world.  Far as TPTB are concerned, they OWN all Information, not limited to just Music and Video, but really all the way to the Human Genome and ever idea ever Published anywhere on the Net.

By no means did the battle end with Napster of course, Digital Copyright Protection schemes have been pursued ever more vigorously, with Apple now overtaking even the Big Gorilla of Microsoft in this arena.  Microsoft was mainly concerned with vigorously prosecuting anyone who Bootlegged their programs or Op Systems, but never concerned themselves much with content.  So for most people, the attempt by Microsoft to fence in their programs didn;t affect them all that much.

Apple on the other hand is by all means possible trying to make it IMPOSSIBLE to copy information or move from platform to platform without going THROUGH Apple on the Cloud.  Trying to get music onto your I-phone is a particular pain in the ass, you can’t just copy/paste the MP3 files, you gotta use I-tunes software to do this, and in my case at least they wanted me to register my Iphone on the Apple website AND drop a Credit Card number on, even though I wasn’t buying anything new.

I am sure many of you who have Apple Iphones and Ipads have noted that there is NO SLOT for and external memory card of ANY type, and not only that, no USB port either to stick in a Jump Drive or connect to an external CD-ROM reader.  Pretty much the ONLY way to get anything INTO your I-Shit is to download it off the net, or in the case of videos, shoot it yourself with the I-Shit machine.  If you do that and try to get it OFF the I-shit machine and it is a Big File, you pretty much cannot do that either, when you try to upload it to the web you get messages that the file is too big.  There probably is some means of using Bluetooth links to another machine to do this, but I haven’t found the software for this and besides none of my older computers are Bluetooth enabled.

So for myself, I am completely SOURED on Apple Tablet/Smartphone products now, and will never buy another one of them.

On the other hand, I ALSO have a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which is basically a Design Rip-off of the I-pad but not near so locked up as the I-pad is, preventing you from moving content on and off the machine. The Galaxy DOES have an external memory card slot, it accepts MicroSD cards, which now come up to 64 GB in size.  It is still not easy to move stuff around on the Galaxy, but it is possible.

This is also an issue as far as eBooks are concerned.  A Tablet is the Ideal Reader for such books, I have the smaller 7″ model of the Galaxy which fits in the Breast Pocket of any Blazer or overcoat, or into the leg pockets of Cargo Pants.  Anytime I am sitting bored waiting on a line or in a restaurant eating, I can yank it out of my pocket and do some reading.  However, I have to have CONTENT on it to read, and if I was to D/L by the Book, I could spend a fortune getting just a few books to read.  I have however found a few websites which permit UNLIMITED downloads of such material, so what I am now doing for so long as this remains possible is to store such material on MicroSD cards, which I can later plug into the Galaxy for essentially ENDLESS reading material, far more than I could read in what remains of my lifetime.

Not only .pdf or .epub text style books are available either for this, you can download Audio Books as well, to play while you are driving the SUV in Traffic to Work or on your way to Walmart or to pick up the kids.  Issue with these books is their huge size, 500MB and more each, so if you were to store them on an Ipad for instance with no external memory card, MAX you might be able to store on say a 32GB Ipad would be around 64 Audio Books, and then no room for your own Vids or anything else. With the Samsung on theo other hand, the number of Audio Books, Movies etc, anything highly compsuptive of Memory is only limited by your Pocket Book in terms of how many Memory Cards you can afford to buy.  These days on Sale, and 8GB MicroSD card goes around $10, so you can store around 16 Audio Books on each.  For pdf style Books, obviously the numbers are much greater, average size for these is around 3-5MB.  At the OUTSIDE of 5MB each average, the 8 GB card will store 1600 Books!  Many of these books, like for instance Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” which I have are over 3000 pages in length!  So essentially, even on one small card, you can have more reading material than you are likely to be able to read in the rest of your life, at least as long as you can fill them up for free (or nearly so).  You can’t do that on an Ipad though.

On a Monetization level, the big problem all along the way for computing has been the fact that a few Major Corporations like Microsoft and Apple have been consistently trying to prevent copying of material, which in the past was quite easy to do on a computer through the Copy/Paste system.  Tablets however make such copy/pasting much more difficult, even if possible at all, so in terms of trying to collect and store information, it is still better done on a Laptop and then LATER transferred to your tablet simply for Reference or Reading.  How long you will be able to do this for is an Open Question.  It is clear that the hardware manufacturers are moving away from fully functional Laptops available to the retail consumer to essentially “Dumb Terminal” Tablets which are mainly only good for surfing the web, and hopefully from the POV of those running the show, SHOPPING, as just about every App you drop on encourages you to BUY something else.

The fact you can Copy information so easily isn’t just bad for the Corporations running the show here on a Monetization level, it clearly SUCKS for the Individual Writer, Musician or Programmer who wishes to control his Intellectual Property, which in many cases might have taken YEARS of that person’s life to produce.  EZ example there, Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” I mentioned before.  If everyone can simply copy/paste this to their hard drive as soon as Edward Publishes, HTF can Edward make any MONEY off of it?  He can’t, unless Access to the material is only through the Web and copying off the web is made impossible, which it can be or nearly so except for real good Hackers.

 

The IT people have more or less solved this problem for themselves by making ever fewer Programs you can install on your Hard Drive fully functional, instead they only provide these programs on the “Cloud”, and to use the program which really resides only on their own server, you have to pay Monthly Membership fees.  Not only the Program only exist on their server though, often same is true of all your DATA as well.  It is not easy to export data from most of these cloud programs.  WordPress and SMF software I use are good examples of that.  It sure would be nice if WP provided a Button I could hit on my Admin Screen and Download all the Blogs I have written to my hard drive, but they haven’t done such a thing. Nor can I easily Download all the Commentary inside the Diner on the SMF software either.  To do either in total, I have to go to the Server on which these files are stored, and copy the entire files.  I can’t read them though unless my machine is equipped with SQL Database software, mighty expensive and dificult stuff to install and work with.  The only way for me to catalogue such material on my own hard drive is to tediously copy/paste and store material as it comes in, or as I go back and individually read through the archives.  I do it sometimes, but mostly I don’t, and so the only place this information exists is on the server I contract for on a Monthly Basis.

For the more typical Writer or Musician or Videographer though who is producing the CONTENT, it has been far less possible to protect this content and still make it Avaialable for Reading/Listening/Watching. Anytime you download a book or music or video, the digital information is THERE on your hard drive, and should be possible to Save onto some media.  To prevent that, the copying software of your computer is limited, but of course good hackers can work around that even if J6P can’t.  At least that is true on a fully functional laptop, less true on Tablets which are limited in what anybody can do on the internal op system.

Is this good or bad though?  It SEEMS bad from the POV of the creator/inventor of some Intellectual Property on the Monetary Level, because if people CAN freely Copy your Ideas this way, YOU can’t make any MONEY!  So what then is the INCENTIVE to CREATE, if you cannot make MONEY from it?  If you can’t PROTECT your ideas and Make Money from them, why bother to have any ideas at all?

For Aaron Swartz, he simply wanted to Liberate Ideas that essentially were already paid for by Public Tax Dollars anyhow.  However, the people who CONTROL those ideas and information don’t WANT it liberated this way; they want to continue to SELL it and extract more PROFIT from it.  This is not really different from the Ownership of Land, in the sense that if you OWN the Land, you can continue to extract profit from each new year of Crops it produces, until of course the Land is depleted, or the Climate changes and drought hits.  Ownership of any kind of Property, including Intellectual Property, allows anyone who “Owns” it to continue to extract a rent from everyone else who needs it or uses it, for so long as they can control that Ownership.

Just like Monetizing the Land through Property Ownership though, Monetizing Intellectual Property creates classes of Haves and Have Nots, of Renters and Rentiers. It is a form of Intellectual Feudaism.  IMHO, NOBODY can “own” the land we all are dependent on; nor can anybody “own” ideas which once they are out there belong to all.  Nobody comes up with new ideas without Standing on the Shoulders of Giants that came before them.  It is the product of the totality of the Human Existence on Earth.

Here on the Diner, its all Free for the taking here, I foot the bill and it is my Gift, for whatever it might truly be worth.  To be able to Give this way, obviously I gotta have other sources of income to Pay Da Bills.  If you DEPEND on your Intellectual Property rather than your daily work for your income, you will seek to protect it and prevent others from copying it without paying you for it.  That is the motivator behind the Patent/Copyright laws, and that is why Adam Swartz was so hounded, and then Murdered.  What he was doing upset the very foundation of the Property Ownership society the Illuminati built up here over lo these many Millenia.

For as long as Money remains the meme here, to all Musicians, I say to you, be Paid for your performance, your Concerts.  Not endlessly for your Recordings.  To Writers I say be paid for your Lectures and for discussion of your ideas, but not endlessly for your Books.  To filmakers I say be paid for the First showing in the Theatres on the Big Screen, but not for every DVD made from your movie.  You should be paid SOMETHING for Ideas of Value which others read/lsten or watch as long as Money is the meme, but ENDLESSLY?  No. It devalues real work, and it is counterproductive to the free flow of information.

For what it is worth, I walk the walk I talk.  I take no money for what I write, nor will I ever.  Perhaps it is not worth much anyhow, but I sure put in plenty-o-time writing it and even at Minimum Wage, it would come to quite a bit of change these days. LOL.

RE

Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder?

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on January 17, 2013

Discuss this article at the Heros of the Revolution table inside the Diner

 
Advocates of online openness and freedom lost a committed champion. The Economist said to call him “gifted would be to miss the point. As far as the internet was concerned, he was the gift.”
 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation called him an “Internet freedom rock star.”
 
An official family statement called him “(o)ur beloved brother, son, friend, and partner….We are in shock, and have not yet come terms with his passing.”
 
His “insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable – these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter.”
 
“Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.”
 
“He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.”
 
“His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.”
 
“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 US 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.”
 
“Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.”
 
Lawrence Lessig is an academic, political activist, online freedom proponent, former University of Chicago/Harvard Law School Professor, and current Professor of Law at Stanford. He founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society.
 
He knew Aaron as a friend and lawyer. On January 13, he headlined “Prosecutor as Bully,” saying:
 
Whatever Aaron did wasn’t for personal gain. He did what he thought right. JSTOR understood. “They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron.”
 
They asked prosecutors to drop charges. “MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear.”
 
Prosecutors took full advantage. They got the excuse they wanted to target Aaron. They wrongfully criminalized him.
 
“From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way.”
 
It suggested he downloaded academic and scholarly articles for profit.
 
“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.”
 
“Aaron had literally done nothing in his life ‘to make money.’ ” Whatever he earned wasn’t by intent.
 
“(W)e live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis, (notorious despots, and other scoundrels) regularly dine at the White House.”
 
“(W)hy (was) Aaron labeled a ‘felon?’ ” Prosecutors bled him dry. “(W)e need to get beyond the ‘I’m right so I’m right to nuke you’ ethics that dominates our time.”
 
“That begins with one word: shame. One word, and endless tears.”
 
A previous article questioned the official suicide story. It quoted Aaron extensively in his own words. It asked if he sounded like someone planning suicide.
 
He advocated online openness and freedom. He called information “power.” He wanted it in the public domain. He wanted everyone able to share it freely and openly. Failure is “too high a price to pay,” he said.
 
It’s “outrageous and unacceptable,” he added. Possessors of information are obligated to share it. They’re morally bound not to “keep this privilege for (them)selves.”
 
“(S)haring isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”
 
“Large corporations….are blinded by greed.” Politicians are “bought off to back them.” Legislation follows. It’s immoral and unjust.
 
“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”
 
Aaron advocated open access. He wanted information everyone has the right to know made public. Download them from scientific journals, he urged. Upload them to file sharing networks.
 
Make privatization of knowledge a thing of the past. He asked everyone to join him in a struggle for what’s right. He did it because it matters.
 
He paid with his life. New York’s medical examiner allegedly conducted an autopsy. He pronounced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”
 
A previous article said lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? Why would he throw it away?
 
Why was no private autopsy and forensic examination done? Why aren’t questions raised about a potential coverup? Why isn’t independently determined full disclosure demanded?
 
Prosecutors notoriously lie. Medical examiners help them. So do media scoundrels.
 
Did Aaron take his own life or was he murdered? America has a dark history of eliminating noted figures it wants silenced.
 
Aaron perhaps is the latest. His death raises obvious suspicions. He appears a victim of capitalist greed. His open access advocacy had to be silenced. What better way than by making murder look like suicide.
 
Was he drugged and then hanged? Was eliminating him planned long ago? Was it done to avoid protracted headline-making trial proceedings?
 
Many of Aaron’s global followers would have reported them daily. Doing so would have revealed prosecutorial injustice. Dark forces perhaps decided not to risk it.
 
Prosecutors hounded him. His attorney, Elliot Peters, accused them of doing it to gain publicity. They cooked up alleged computer crimes against him.
 
They targeted his advocacy for what’s right. They wanted him silenced. They wanted him put away for decades. They wanted him out of sight and mind.
 
They crossed ethical and moral lines, said Lessig. They did what they did because they can. They made him a martyr in the process. He’s internationally recognized for fighting for what’s right.
 
Internet freedom is at stake. In 2008, candidate Obama promised to “(s)upport the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”
 
As president he’s waged war to destroy it. He wants open access advocates criminalized. He calls doing so investing in America’s future. He wants censorship replacing First Amendment rights.
 
He and likeminded Washington extremists support an alphabet soup of federal and international freedom-destroying measures.
 
Various cybersecurity acts threaten constitutional freedoms. SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and TPP are stealth pro-corporate, anti-populist schemes.
 
Secrecy and misbranding conceal their harshness. Activists know what’s going on and say so. At issue is unchallenged global corporate empowerment regulation free.
 
Internet freedom, popular rights, and national sovereignty are too important to lose. They’re on the chopping block for elimination.
 
Profits alone matter. Compromising civil liberties is a small price to pay. So are public knowledge, privacy, and other fundamental rights free societies should champion. Democratic values are too important to lose.
 
Obama has other ideas in mind. Aaron and likeminded open access advocates challenged him. Doing so targeted him for elimination. Others are likewise threatened.
 
Doing the right thing is dangerous. Everyone involved is closely monitored. FBI, CIA and other national security files are maintained.
 
Lawless warrantless surveillance watches like Big Brother. Phones are tapped. Emails and other private communications are monitored, collected and stored. Stealth videos at times are used. There’s no place to hide.
 
Doing the right thing is hazardous. America’s unfit to live in. For many, it’s dangerous. Other Western societies operate the same way. The best, brightest and most dedicated are targeted.
 
Some are marked for elimination. Odds suggest Aaron was one. A fitting epitaph should read killed by capitalist greed.
 
He’s gone but by no means forgotten. Others continue his struggle for open access justice. Doing so is the only chance to have it. The alternative is too intolerable to accept.
 
A Final Comment
 
On January 15, Russia Today said Massachusetts federal court charges were dropped. Why pursue a dead man. A simple statement read:
 
“DISMISSAL”
 
“Pursuant to FRCP 48(a), the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, hereby dismisses the case presently pending against Defendant Aaron Swartz.”
 
“In support of this dismissal, the government states that Mr. Swartz died on January 11, 2013.”
 
Omitted was full disclosure about how and most important why. Aaron was no ordinary Internet freedom advocate. His prominence made him a marked man. It cost him his life.
 
JSTOR didn’t press charges. MIT pursued a civil suit. Repercussions remain ongoing.
 
On January 14, the global hacktivist collective, Anonymous, broke into MIT’s website. It replaced its front page. A simple line read: “In Memoriam, Aaron Swartz.”
 
A statement followed. It called the Justice Department’s prosecution “a grotesque miscarriage of justice” and “a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for.”
 
“We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered Internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all,” it added.
 
Aaron grew up in suburban Chicago. On January 11, he died in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 26 years old.
 
On January 15, suburban Chicago’s Highland Park Central Avenue Synagogue was filled to capacity.
 
Family, friends and supporters came to honor him. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman spoke for others, saying “Aaron wanted so badly to change the world. He wanted it more than money. He wanted it more than fame.”
 
“When things are hard – and he said it is the important things that are hard – you have to lean into the pain.”

Fighting Back Against the “Intellectual Property” Racket

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

Published on Land Destroyer on January 13, 2013

Aaron Swartz protesting SOPA

Discuss this article at the Heroes of the Revolution Table inside the Diner

January 13, 2013 (LocalOrg/Tony Cartalucci) – In your standard dictatorship, activists are brought out back and shot.

In the United States’ crypto-dictatorship, activists are bullied by the state until they go bankrupt, are buried under a mountain of legal woes, are publicly discredited or humiliated, or as in the case of activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, made to crack under the constant pressure, and commit suicide.

While superficially the United States may seem more progressive, a dead activist bullied to death for his political views, is a dead activist – whether it was a bullet in the back of the head by SS officers, or a mountain of litigation dumped upon someone by the US Department of Justice.

We are All Aaron Swartz.

Swartz was an active opponent of the media industry’s various assaults on Internet freedom and sharing, including the scandalous SOPA/PIPA and ACTA bills. He was the director of Demand Progress, which pursued the following campaigns:

The big business lobbyists who are behind the Internet Blacklist Bill are already making the sequel. The “Ten Strikes” bill would make it a felony to stream copyrighted content — like music in the background of a Youtube video, movies and TV shows — more than ten times.

Click here to read the text of the bill and voice your opposition.

2. Oppose Protect-IP

We knew that members of Congress and their business allies were gearing up to pass a revised Internet Blacklist Bill — which more than 325,000 Demand Progress members helped block last winter — but we never expected it to be this atrocious. Last year’s bill has been renamed the “PROTECT IP” Act and it is far worse than its predecessor.

The new PROTECT-IP Act retains the censorship components from COICA, but adds a new one: It bans people from having serious conversations about the blacklisted sites. Under the new bill, anyone “referring or linking” to a blacklisted site is prohibited from doing so and can be served with a blacklist order forcing them to stop.

3. Bin Laden Is Dead. Will The Patriot Act Live On?

The Patriot Act was enacted as a supposedly temporary measure in the wake of 9-11. With Bin Laden’s passing, the era of the Patriot Act, of spying on Americans who aren’t suspected of crimes, of heavy-handed abuse of our dearly held civil liberties, must come to an end.

We need to act now to make sure we win this fight. Tens of thousands of Demand Progress members have already urged Congress to fix the Patriot Act. Will you ask Congress and the President to return us to the legal norms that existed before 9-11 and start respecting our civil liberties?

4. Tell Facebook: Stop Censoring Political Speech

A range of Facebook users, from political dissidents to technology bloggers, are reporting the sudden blocking of their pages. Facebook provided no prior warning, nor was there a clear process established to restore access to the blocked pages.

Will you fight back?

5. Tell The DOJ: Investigate Goldman Sachs

Investigators discovered that Goldman traders bragged about selling “shitty” deals to clients and the mega-bank bet against the same financial products it was selling to investors. And they’ve lied about it all the way to the bank.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and small-time homeowners are in jail for mortgage fraud, but no CEOs have been prosecuted for their roles in the financial crisis. It’s time to change that.

6. Tell Your Lawmakers: Shut Down The New Debtors’ Prisons

Americans are in more debt than ever before, and the banks are going to new extremes to squeeze us for every last penny: If you can’t pay up, they’ll try to get you locked up.

7. Could the Government Really Shut Down Facebook?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are out of control. They’ve been seizing domain names without due process: they shut down 84,000 sites by accident last month, arrested a man for linking to other websites, and government officials think ICE and DHS are claiming powers that would even threaten sites like Facebook.

8. Fight Internet ‘Kill Switch’

Are our leaders better than Egypt’s? Across the globe, governments know that the Internet is increasingly the lifeblood of democracy — that’s why Egypt’s oppressive regime just shut down the Internet there.

But even as American politicians condemn Egypt for doing so, they’re pushing legislation to give our government the power to do the exact same thing here at home! The so-called ‘Kill Switch’ would let the president turn off our Internet — without a court even having to approve the decision.
Join over 40,000 in fighting it. Add your name!

9. Let the PATRIOT Act Expire

The most noxious parts of the USA PATRIOT Act are about to expire — but Congress wants to extend them again. These provisions let the government spy on people without naming them in a warrant, and secretly access your library and bank records under a gag order prohibiting anyone from letting you know.

Join over 60,000 in opposing extension. Add your name!

10. No Mandatory Internet IDs!

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke just announced that he’s developing virtual ID cards for Internet users — and they could pose a severe threat to our privacy! The program’s called the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” and the draft proposal indicates that we’d be forced to use the IDs for any online transactions with the government, and for online interactions with businesses that use them.

Over 30,000 have told Gary Locke to back off. Add your name!

11. Protect Whistleblowers at Big Banks

Crimes committed by the big banks helped crash our economy — and WikiLeaks is saying that a whistle-blower has sent them enough evidence to take down Bank of America. So now the big banks are fighting back by trying to get the government to muzzle future whistle-blowers.

Tell the SEC not to listen to them. Add your name!

12. Don’t Let them Outlaw WikiLeaks!

Politicians are leading the charge to outlaw WikiLeaks and undermine freedom of the press. First Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) successfully pressured Amazon.com to stop hosting the WikiLeaks website and now, as Julian Assange has been arrested in the UK, he’s introduced a new bill changing the law to make WikiLeaks illegal.

More than 30,000 have signed our petition to stop him. Add your name!

13. Stop the TSA’s Nude Scanners!

Across the country, TSA is replacing airport metal detectors with scanners that take nude photos of you — violating your rights, zapping you with X-rays that could cause cancer, and slowing down the lines. And if you opt-out, they feel up your “sensitive regions.”

Lawmakers in New Jersey and Idaho are trying to stop them. Let’s get a similar bill introduced in every state! Contact your lawmaker!

14. Stop the Internet Blacklist!

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are out of control. They’ve been seizing domain names without due process: they shut down 84,000 sites by accident last month, arrested a man for linking to other websites, and government officials think ICE and DHS are claiming powers that would even threaten sites like Facebook.

Over 300,000 signers! Add your name!

PLUS: Download our new flyer for our Stop The Internet Blacklist campaign and start a grassroots movement in your area!

Clearly, Demand Progress is not just another faux-NGO working in tandem with special interests under the guise of “human rights,” “freedom,” and “democracy” to peddle further exploitation and expansion of the powers that be – but rather identified these special interests by name, and exposed both their agenda and the means by which they attempt to achieve it. Swartz’ death is a tragic one, and compounded by the dismissive, almost celebratory atmosphere across the corporate-media of the passing of a man they labeled a suspected criminal.

Swartz was targeted b the US Department of Justice, MIT, and their corporate-financier sponsors because he was a prominent and particularly effective voice against real creeping oppression. He was a pragmatic, technical individual and proposed solutions that short-circuited the typical and ineffectual political infighting that drives most disingenuous or misguided causes.We all stand the potential of being targeted like Swartz if we allow these monopolies to continue dictating the destiny of human progress. We are all Aaron Swartz – and must realize his targeting and subsequent suicide is the manifestation of the real danger these insidious monopolies pose to us.

Sharing is Not a Crime.

Technologically empowered openness and generosity across the corporate-financier dominated Western World is no more a real offense than was being Jewish inside Nazi Germany. But like Nazi Germany, anything can be “outlawed” if it suits political and economic special interest. Are we truly “criminals” for not respecting laws born of special interests, detached from the will and best interests of the people? No, we most certainly aren’t.

Swartz allegedly downloaded scholarly files from an open and unsecured academic archive (and here). The original files are still very much intact and at the disposal of the organization that maintains the archives. Nothing was stolen, yet Swartz was accused of “theft,” facing 30 years in prison and a 1 million dollar fine – this in a nation where rapists and murders can spend less time in prison, and elected representatives involved in willfully selling wars based on patently false pretenses walk free without even the faintest prospect of facing justice.

Swartz’ crusade against the corporate-financier interests attempting to monopolize and control communication and technology is surely why he was targeted by the federal government, academia, and their corporate-financier sponsors. It is no different than an activist being brought out back of a kangaroo court in a third-world dictatorship, and shot. The silence from so-called “human rights” advocates over the treatment, and now death of Aaron Swartz is deafening – exposing them yet again as another cog in the machine.

It is time to fight back – and time to fight back without the help of these disingenuous NGOs and their purposefully futile tactics of solely protesting and petitioning. Pragmatic, technical solutions must also be explored and deployed at the grassroots to shatter these corporate-financier monopolies at the very source of their power – that is – our daily patronage and dependence on their goods and services.

The Plan.

An alternative to the networks, media, services, and even hardware must be devised and deployed across our local communities. Laws born of special interests and flying in the face of the people’s best interests must be exposed, condemned, and entirely ignored. Taking away a human being’s freedom because they copied and shared a file is unconscionable – as unconscionable as imprisoning a human being because of their political, religious, or racial background. We would ignore laws imposed upon our society singling out blacks or Jews, but not laws criminalizing sharing solely for the benefit of corporate special interests?

In December 2012’s “Decentralizing Telecom,” a plan for establishing a second Internet, locally built and maintained, and connected with neighboring networks to run parallel to the existing Internet – but be free of large telecom monopolies – was proposed.

Also published in December of 2012, was “Sharing is Not a Crime: A Battle Plan to Fight Back,” which illustrated the importance of shifting entirely away from proprietary business models and instead, both using and producing open source hardware, software, news, and entertainment.

Establishing local, and eventually national and even international parallel networks is possible, but will take time. Turning toward open source software can begin today, with a visit to OSalt.com and exploring alternatives that are already being used by millions today.

A bridge between where we are now and a truly free Internet made by the people, for the people, and entirely maintained in a decentralized, local manner, is what are called “Pirate Boxes.” David Darts, an artist, designer, and coder, describes a Pirate Box as:

PirateBox is a self-contained mobile communication and file sharing device. Simply turn it on to transform any space into a free and open communications and file sharing network.

Share (and chat!) Freely Inspired by pirate radio and the free culture movements, PirateBox utilizes Free, Libre and Open Source software (FLOSS) to create mobile wireless communications and file sharing networks where users can anonymously chat and share images, video, audio, documents, and other digital content.

Private and Secure PirateBox is designed to be private and secure. No logins are required and no user data is logged. Users remain completely anonymous – the system is purposely not connected to the Internet in order to subvert tracking and preserve user privacy.

Easy to Use Using the PirateBox is easy. Simply turn it on and transform any space into a free communication and file sharing network. Users within range of the device can join the PirateBox open wireless network from any wifi-enabled device and begin chatting and sharing files immediately.

Under David’s FAQ’s regarding Pirate Boxes, a particularly useful question is answered:

Can I make my own PirateBox?

Absolutely! The PirateBox is registered under the GNU GPLv3. You can run it on an existing device or can be built as a stand-alone device for as little as US$35. For detailed instructions, visit the PirateBox DIY page.

For the media-industry to stop the spread of local hardware solutions like Pirate Boxes, they would have to literally be in every single community, inside every single person’s house, to prevent people from taking legally purchased or freely available media, and sharing it – akin to publishers policing the entire population to prevent readers from lending their friends and family their copy of a particular book.

The basic principles and experience one gets from building and using a Pirate Box can allow them to tackle larger mesh networks and eventually, decentralize telecom. By encouraging local meetings where PirateBoxes are used, the foundation for new local organizations and institutions can be laid.

New Paradigms Require New Institutions – Join or Start a Hackerspace

Not everyone possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to create local networks or develop alternatives to the goods and services we currently depend on corporate-financier monopolies for. Even those that do, cannot, by themselves, effectively research, develop, and deploy such alternatives. By pooling our resources together in common spaces called “hackerspaces,” we can. Hackerspaces are not just for technically talented individuals, but a place where anyone with the inclination to learn can come and participate.

Hackerspaces can be organized under a wide range of templates – including clubs where dues are paid, spaces that earn income through providing courses or services to the community, and many others. It will be in hackerspaces, and local institutions like them, that a truly people-driven paradigm shift takes place – one of pragmatism and progress, not endlessly broken political promises from elected officials.

People can visit Hackerspaces.org to see the closest organization near them where they can join in. Conversely, for those who either don’t have a hackerspace nearby to join, or simply want to start their own, see, “How to Start a Hackerspace,” for more information on where to begin.

Finally…

Aaron Swartz’ passing becomes even more tragic if we do not recognize what he spent his life fighting for, and realize that no matter where we think we stand on the issue of Internet freedom, the interests driving the debate from Wall Street and Washington, do not have any of our best interests in mind.

We are all Aaron Swartz – to reclaim the battle cry abused so flagrantly by the West’s faux-democratic “awakening” in the Arab World and beyond. And we must all become active opponents of this agenda to usurp our ability to determine our own destiny. Aaron Swartz was an exceptional proponent of Internet freedom and openness – but by all of us joining the ranks of this cause, we exponentially complicate the system’s ability to target and destroy any one of us. If your cause is just, and your means constructive and pragmatic, there isn’t just “safety” in numbers, there is invincibility.

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