A case ostensibly linked to “Al Qaeda” allowed the FBI claim they had a basis to request a massive dump of email metadata from the University of Pittsburg IT department. We don’t know exactly how much data was collected, just that Aaron’s email happens to be on Page 27 of an Appendix.
All this metadata is stored indefinitely and is accessible in the course of any unrelated investigation.
The legal standard the FBI has to meet to be able to NSL this information from a target is described as “a hunch”.
Seems like the University of Pittsburgh didn't call up the EFF and instead capitulated to a likely unconstitutional request.
If you believe that they actually adhere to them. As someone else described (I don't know), this particular collection started with "a hunch"...
If we don't know what our government and its agencies are actually doing -- to a reasonable degree, as it were -- we cannot exercise oversight and we cease to be a democracy (in the form of a republic, or otherwise).
The FBI is already allowed to eat the fruit of the poisonous tree on a daily basis thanks to its expansive surveillance powers, and the vast majority of judges are clueless about it.
Obama's executive order days before he left office along with the recent renewal (and expansion) of FISA 702 now also allows all 17 enforcement agencies (including DEA, IRS, SEC, etc) to have the same type of access without a warrant.
Who knows how many decades will pass until all of this will be properly challenged at the Supreme Court. It's why I've argued here in the past about US' necessity to create a "Constitutional Court" that wouldn't allow blatantly unconstitutional laws to become laws after Congress and the president pass them in their effort to gain more power and control over the population.
Or are you just spitting on his grave by suggesting that he was too dumb to understand what sentence he was realistically facing? Swartz had good legal representation, he definitely knew he wasn't in serious trouble.
Clearly this guy had been depressed for a long time, he had already posted a suicide note on his blog long before the whole JSTOR thing.
If he had been locked in a cell when he did it, then it might be realistic to point fingers at others.
> Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had hanged himself.
So, he was facing potentially 6 months in prison. He rejected that, and then killed himself.
Modern journalism is garbage, and you've already demonstrated the public accounting of this case is poor quality. We can speculate why.
From the article:
> "Swartz’s lead defense attorney, Elliot Peters, said today that both he and Swartz rejected the plea deal offered by the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and instead were pushing for a trial where federal prosecutors would have been forced to publicly justify their pursuit of Swartz."
There are multiple interviews where Elliot Peters makes the same claim.
I really have no idea what you're complaining about, or what you expect. Do you need a recorded video of Elliot Peters saying these things about the plea, and then displaying his drivers license and stating his social security number? The way the reporting was done in my original link is completely standard.
Also, any time in prison for IP violations is a travesty.
We've got to get better at "piercing the corporate veil."
It is, however, ignorant at best if we stop discussion completely at the point where an individual is put in prison for something they did on behalf of the organisation, or due to organisation policy etc. since part of the justice system is deterrence, the organisation itself should be factored into that calculation.
Various mafias are also organisations, but that's a much easier case than this - shut down a mafia by taking the heads of the organisation. That works because it's not "just business". But in the case of MIT I have a strong feeling that if there is such a systemic issue as other commenters are hinting towards, it won't be so easy to be rid of it by putting the person in top position in prison. Such a person is the appearance, not the essence.
I think I agree with you, but I've seen people make similar statements without elaboration and feel I may be missing some important subtext.
This is a contested and unsettled legal question. It is not an established fact that what Aaron did would constitute stealing, due to the nuances of this particular situation.
> and that subverting the law, even if non ideal, was HIS choice, and therefore the overly dramatic legal threats were invited by HIS actions
Even if you ignore the fact that MIT has a long, established student culture of civil disobedience and circumventing the law, the level of prosecution was completely disproportionate to what he actually did.
The legal concept of "theft":
"the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale)..." (see the link above for more)
So what does it mean to "take"?:
"to gain or obtain possession, including the receipt of a legacy from an estate, getting title to real property or stealing an object."
"1) any article, object, asset or property which one owns, occupies, holds or has under control. 2) the act of owning, occupying, holding or having under control an article, object, asset or property." (again - more is available at the link)
Ok - so data can't be occupied, so we can drop that. Holding something implies that something is now in someone's hands and not in another's; data doesn't really work that way either. So - can you "own" or "control" data?
I'm not going further down this rabbit hole, but it seems to me that we have carved out this special exemption for data - or more generally IP - that isn't applied to physical objects. Which is to say that if you make a copy of data that isn't "your's" (whatever that means in a legal sense), that you have now, in some manner, committed theft. You have somehow stolen something from someone else - even though they still have theirs!
Imagine a physical item, and imagine you had a way to copy it. Maybe a wood table, and you are an expert woodworker. You see it, you take some measurements first, plus some photos, maybe a 3D scan? Or you used photogrammetry from the pictures to gain the 3D data. Whatever. Then you go home and make the copy in your workshop. You make an "exact" copy of that table, and the owner (the guy who originally made it - maybe he was selling it, too) learns about it.
Have you just stolen from him? Have you committed theft?
In the real world, if you tried to bring such charges, you might be laughed out of court (unless he had a patent on it, and you were trying to sell that copy - because patent law allows one to make such copies in order to make improvements, but those copies can't be sold or manufactured in quantity).
But when it comes to data - all of a sudden, it's different. With data, the deprivation (even if you are just keeping it for yourself, with no intention of passing it on to someone else!) is considered to be "a loss of sales revenue".
So why not in that case of that table? Or any other potentially manufactured artifact?
The "slippery slope" argument might be the idea that in the future, that yes, if you happen to make an exact copy of a manufactured article (whether manufactured as a singular item or by the millions, whether done by hand or by machines), and regardless of whether you intend to sell it or keep it for your own use - that if caught, you will be deemed as having committed theft; as having stolen something.
I mean - why not? That's what we do with data, so why not physical items?
The next step is, of course, to just define stealing or theft as being the deprivation of sales revenue...but that would be crazy, right?
As crazy as thinking that one could define stealing and theft as being something you do where you don't deprive the original owner of anything...?
He was? I may be misremembering, but I don't think that was the crime he was accused of. I believe the crime was bypassing access control systems.
And even that accusation seriously stretched credulity.
Among other things, he was charged with the heinous crime of modifying his MAC address on his laptop's WiFi so that he could obtain a new IP address.
How did that accusation seriously stretch credulity? The technical means may have been simple, but it's unquestionable that he did so intending to circumvent access controls.
attaches retrieval requests to a python script
"N-N-NOT LIKE THAT--!!"
They shouldn't have threatened him to the extent they did, I definitely concede, and I wish he didn't feel so pressured to commit suicide - but I'm not convinced he was the perfect person everyone seems to claim.
Let's say you can prove intent to distribute; I still don't think it's worth any jail time. It's theoretically harmful at best, minor harm to anyone at worst. It's not like a large specific harm (say, stealing someone's car, which has a definite negative impact on them). It's more like... taking all the shrimp at the buffet.
Plus our copyright law is completely fucked anyway and encourages anti competitive behavior (the exact opposite of its intent). On top of that, there's a good bet that 99.99% of the papers involved were the results of taxpayer-funded research.
I don't think he's a saint, but I do think he got a bullshit deal by an overzealous, madwoman prosecutor and university - both of whom rely on federal funding. And everything that was "stolen" was also created with federal funding.
But really, all of those differences don't really matter. The most important difference is: Would you kill yourself instead of going to jail for just 6 months? Maybe you would. I don't know for certain. But if the US's booming prison industry tells me anything, it's that you (like most people) probably wouldn't kill yourself instead of taking a 6 month sentence.
I am sorry to be "that guy", but sometimes laws are unfair.
Extreme counter-example: SS officials in nazi Germany were acting according to the then-in-place laws. That does not mean they can thus be exempted from any consequences.
> In short, Aaron Swartz was not the super hacker breathlessly described in the Government’s indictment and forensic reports, and his actions did not pose a real danger to JSTOR, MIT or the public. He was an intelligent young man who found a loophole that would allow him to download a lot of documents quickly. This loophole was created intentionally by MIT and JSTOR, and was codified contractually in the piles of paperwork turned over during discovery.
> If I had taken the stand as planned and had been asked by the prosecutor whether Aaron’s actions were “wrong”, I would probably have replied that what Aaron did would better be described as “inconsiderate”. In the same way it is inconsiderate to write a check at the supermarket while a dozen people queue up behind you or to check out every book at the library needed for a History 101 paper. It is inconsiderate to download lots of files on shared wifi or to spider Wikipedia too quickly, but none of these actions should lead to a young person being hounded for years and haunted by the possibility of a 35 year sentence.
He wilfully, deliberately and with substantial premeditation broke the law. Having pretty much stated publicly he was going to and been caught and let off for a similar crime previously. He was bang to rights guilty.
However, he was then persecuted mercilessly and threatened with a sentence way out of proportion to the crime. He was hounded to his death for political brownie points and that's unforgivable.
But to suggest he was just a naughty schoolboy is inaccurate and unhelpful.
So did Rosa Parks, and so did Edward Snowden. That does not mean they automatically deserve what they got.
Indeed, and I said the same about Aaron.
Snowden's a different case as he didn't break the law to show up the law.
But it's critical to history that Rosa Parks broke the law. If she had just annoyed a racist bus driver then there's no shining a light on the system. And crucially, that's what Aaron was attempting to do too.
What I quoted says nothing more. And what I replied to was "if you can't do the time", implying "the time" was appropriate to the crime.
> to suggest he was just a naughty schoolboy
What in what I quoted suggests that? Can you quote the bits you consider "a load of nonsense"?
The article attempts to defend Swartz by essentially claiming that what he did was unimpressive... So what? Same goes for SQL injection. In fact, most crimes are quite unimpressive.
It's indisputable that both JSTOR and MIT actively tried to block Swartz, and that he actively circumvented those blocks.
The article also makes the completely bullshit claim that Swartz could've realistically received a 35 year sentence.
Worse has been done for pranks with little to no consequence.
Recent suicide of 9 year old because bullying had sparked debate in our office. And most agreed her bullies and parents of bullies should be charged criminally.
He was hounded to death by a prosecutor. The fact that the prosecutor lied to him is hardly a defense.
He had good legal representation and it couldn't have been as easy to mislead him as people here keep suggesting.
What sort of a person kills themselves over 4 months in prison?
And you keep saying he couldn't have hanged himself over these charges. Given that he was threatened with prison time, and shortly after hanged himself, what's your counter-theory? He was murdered by the CIA? He was totally fine with the changes, but he just got real sad all of a sudden? There is no reasonable circumstance where this wasn't the major factor in his suicide.
You’re the one giving incorrect numbers, he couldn’t possibly have been sentenced to 50 years.
According to his attorneys, the prosecutors believed that the most they could achieve at trial would have been 7 years. A very different number from 50 years.
I suggest you look into the case a little before making statements like this. Techdirt may not be the best source either.
> According to his attorneys, the prosecutors believed that the most they could achieve at trial would have been 7 years. A very different number from 50 years.
And a lot more than 6 months.
You still haven't answered my question. If he didn't kill himself because he feared prison, then what happened?
I should have used more accurate language. I think my intended statement is clear now.
Aaron Swartz = a very questionable "breaking and entering" charge and some computer "crimes". Otherwise, publicly, an extremely upstanding member of society.
Popcorn Sutton = very very very openly an illegal distiller, and seller, of untested/unreglated alcohol that he self-documented via video and distributed the video as well as a self-published manual. Had multiple arrests and convictions over the years for the alcohol production, drug charges, assault with a deadly weapon. He was then arrested for trying to sell to an undercover officer while illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Popcorn illegally distilled alcohol for at LEAST 35 years.
To me, doesn't sound like this guy was at all on the same level of soft law breaking as Mr. Schwartz.
Do you believe this distiller's actions to be just and moral? Are you opposed to laws or something?
I do not believe it is wrong to sell "drugs" without government intervention
Bootleggers aren't 'innocent'. They're extremely territorial up to the point of property destruction and even murder. They evade alcohol taxation, they often don't report the income from their sales (because, well, duh they don't want more attention). In some instances they are often involved in narcotic/meth/marijuana/heroin trafficking, sometimes have gang affiliations, have murdered law enforcement officers, etc.
Popcorn was convicted, and served time, for some of those offenses decades before his last arrest and continued to carry on with his illegal activity. If you think selling potentially toxic alcohol, tax evasion, drug dealing and violent assault are absolutely 'wrong'. Those are the things we KNOW he did.
His last arrest, in my opinion the alcohol charge should have been dropped as entrapment, but he was a felon in possession of a firearm which is a crime (and a sensible one, given his prior conviction of assault with a deadly weapon) and he should have been fully on the hook for that.
It's unfortunate he felt the need to take his life but his case is in no way similar to that of Aaron Swartz. Aaron made a bad decision and did a largely digital crime, Popcorn was overtly a career criminal.
I don't know Popcorns case in detail but if the assault you listed was in self-defense every thing you list is illegal but not wrong.
All alcohol is toxic. Exchange and consumption are consensual, that's what matters.
all alcohol is toxic but sometimes your alcohol is actually accidentally methanol and then you die now, not later
As long as you ignest methanol with enough ethanol mixed in, it's not lethal. You would have to separately capture the small amount of stuff coming out before the "heads" to make deadly methanol. Soundslike this could happen only if you make an industrial quantity batch, and are completely reckless about the basics.
Bootleggers aren't 'innocent'.
Replace with marijuana and you get the same. Declare taxes on cocaine sales? People know what they want, moonshine, and he provided it. Do I think everyone should mix stuff on their bathtub or garage and sell it to people? Nope, but people that buy moonshine know what they want and he had his own brand /customers. So, while illegal no harm comes from them to the average person. (A CEO uses a legal, but paid for via lobbying, loophole to save 1000x more in taxes than all moonshiners steal combined)
When's the last time you've heard of a burnout pot-dealer murdering people, murdering police, modifying their cars to outrun police to the point of actually spawning a sport (nascar).
When's the last time you heard that marijuana made someone blind or destroyed their liver and kidneys by containing methanol and lead?
Sure, moonshiners are sometimes direct to customer, but some will have distributors because you can throw tens, or even a hundred or more gallons in the bed of a truck or a van. Simply getting enough materials to manufacture large quantities is a great way to 'get got', buying sugar in sufficient quantities will get state BATF called. You have to obtain large amounts (for a private individual) of grain and sugar (which usually means paying people to set some aside for you and buying their discretion, or having customers go buy in smaller quantities for you for pay or for a discount on their liquor), transport it to a storage area, transport it and horded containers to an often remote location to cook and distill where the scent can travel for many many miles and the heat signature is readily visible from piloted aircraft and UAVs, fill containers, transport containers to one or more caches, then actually deliver to customers or sellers. This is comparable to a 'guerilla grower' however the risk to reward ratio is considerably less than a grow-operation. Then of course you're selling something of unknown purity, that may contain lead or methanol which can do damage within hours of consumption and over relatively short periods can cause irreversible damage or death.
For grow operations that are outside, you mostly need to go set up some trail cams, plant your crop, watch it (and be willing to protect it with lethal force), and transport it at harvest. Sure, you can then carry more in value out on a single person than a moonshiner might make from an entire run. Moonshine has to be competitive with state or retail sold alcohol so 20-30$ a quart for 150-190 proof. Sure a grow operation is making a lot more money even at wholesale pricing, a quick google search shows 18.5g of 'average mid weed' is a cup of volume so 74g of week is roughly the same volume of a quart jar, even if you assume half that due to moisture volume, someone could easily walk out of the woods with 5kg of weed in a 65 liter hiking backpack which is far more than your average dealer is going to be moving in a reasonable amount of time.
Yes, a 'guerrilla grower' is an order of magnitude higher on the threat list than most moonshiners BUT a moonshiner is an order of magnitude higher than your buddy from high school that sold a little weed to fund his habit, or had a few plants growing in his closet and sells almost exclusively to people he's known for years and is likely buying from a single individual or has a couple of grow tents in his walk-in closet.
This quote is a verifiable fact and should frighten everyone:
> We know from Collyers report the FISA-702(16)(17) process was extraordinarily abused by verified “contractors” who had access to the FBI/NSA database. The rate of abuse was 85%. Meaning 85 out of every 100 FISA702 database searches were unauthorized and outside of compliance.
It gets worse. The data was used/sold for political purposes by opposition researchers.
The whole thing stinks and it’s not a partisan issue. Anyone that cares about this stuff should be rallying around this news and demanding more information. Parties aside, this is serious.
creates secret police
secret police abuses citizens
What a twist.
Let's have real discussions here.
We had that as far back as the Bush 43 Administration with regard to the surveillance systems.
The document here was obtained by Property of People, who don't appear to be conservative researchers.
This should honestly come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. Protect yourselves folks, no one else will.
We can't ignore a problem just because "everybody knows".
This is the significance that should be read into it.
If it were narrowly tailored, the FBI wouldn't be able to access the information when conducting an investigation that would not have otherwise been able to obtain that information without a court order.
Additionally your attempt to justify why this is OK is also wrong, NSLs are not supposed to be used to investigate organized crime, but to investigate and prevent terrorist attacks.