Category Archives: Video

Brewster Kahle: Howl For Aaron Swartz

It’s never easy on January 11th. This year will be no exception.

Brewster Kahle recorded this in the Fall of 2015. Today is the first time it has been published.

Howl for Aaron Swartz

Written by Brewster Kahle, shortly after Aaron’s Death, on January 11, 2013.

Howl for Aaron Swartz
New ways to create culture
Smashed by lawsuits and bullying
Laws that paint most of us criminal

Inspiring young leaders
Sharing everything
Living open source lives
Inspiring communities selflessly

Organizing, preserving
Sharing, promoting
Then crushed by government
Crushed by politicians, for a modest fee
Crushed by corporate spreadsheet outsourced business development

New ways
New communities
Then infiltrated, baited
Set-up, arrested

Celebrating public spaces
Learning, trying, exploring
Targeted by corporate security snipers
Ending up in databases
Ending up in prison

Traps set by those that promised change
Surveillance, wide-eyes, watching everyone now
Government surveillance that cannot be discussed or questioned
Corporate surveillance that is accepted with a click

Terrorists here, Terrorists there
More guns in schools to promote more guns, business
Rendition, torture
Manning, solitary, power

Open minds
Open source
Open eyes
Open society

Public access to the public domain
Now closed out of our devices
Closed out of owning books
Hands off
Do not open
Criminal prosecution

Traps designed by the silicon wizards
With remarkable abilities to self-justify
Traps sprung by a generation
That vowed not to repeat
COINTELPRO and dirty tricks and Democratic National Conventions

Government-produced malware so sophisticated
That career engineers go home each night thinking what?
Saying what to their families and friends?

Debt for school
Debt for houses
Debt for life
Credit scores, treadmills, with chains

Inspiring and optimistic explorers navigating a sea of traps set by us
I see traps ensnare our inspiring generation
Leaders and discoverers finding new ways and getting crushed for it

Jacob Appelbaum at Aaron Swartz Day 2015

Download mp4       Hi-res files of entire event
CC0

Jacob Appelbaum read a powerful statement at this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Celebration. I’m still processing everything he revealed to us that night.

Here are some highlights. A complete transcription follows.

Quotes From Jacob’s Talk:

Shortly after Aaron was found, WikiLeaks disclosed three facts:

  • Aaron assisted WikiLeaks.
  • Aaron communicated with Julian and others during 2010 and 2011.
  • And Aaron may have even been a source.

I do not believe that these issues are unrelated to Aaron’s persecution, and it is clear that the heavy-handed U.S. prosecution pushed Aaron to take his own life. How sad that he was abandoned by so many in his time of need. Is it really the case that there was no link? Is it really the case that the U.S. prosecutors went after Aaron so harshly because of a couple of Python scripts and some PDFs? No, clearly not…

When we learned more details about the U.S. prosecutors, we learned that they considered Aaron a dangerous radical for unspecified reasons. One of the primary reasons is probably the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. This is a good document, and, as many others, I respect it and I admire it. The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto is not as radical as the U.S. prosecutors might consider it. But their fear is telling, so let us say it out loud: We should honor it and we should extend it.

Let’s not only liberate the documents of the world, let us act in solidarity to liberate all of humanity. Let us create infrastructure that resists mass surveillance. Let us enable people to leak documents. And let us also work to infiltrate those organizations that betrayed us. There is a division of labor, and we all bring different skills to the table. Let us all use them in service of a better world, in service of justice.

We must have total transparency about the investigation into Aaron. Why was the Department of Justice grinding their axe with Aaron? Was it really because of JSTOR and the past anger about PACER? That is absurd and unbelievable. It is disproportionate and it is unjust.

One concrete thing that needs to happen is for the FOIA case to be properly resolved. We must find a way to speed up the processing about FOIAs regarding Aaron. Rather than hundreds of documents at a time, we should have all 85,000 at once, and not mediated by MIT, who is partially responsible for the outcome we have today.

And we must not drop the pressure. If you are invited to MIT, I encourage you to decline and to explain that you do so because of MIT’s treatment of Aaron Swartz. But not just Aaron, but those like Star Simpson and Bunnie, who MIT would’ve left to be like Aaron, if the cards had played a little differently…

And there is a legal lesson that we actually must learn in a very hard way, as many communities have learned it already, and it is one where the lawyers in the audience who represent me are already cringing from what I’ve said, but they’ll cringe harder next. We must resist grand juries. We must not bow down. We must band together. And together we can refuse to be isolated. We must resist it every step of the way, never giving them anything, ever, at all, when they wish to persecute us for our political beliefs. And if you feel there is no other choice, drag it out and make it public…

Part of what Aaron carried was an understanding that it wasn’t just that something needed to be done. He carried with him the idea that very specific things needed to happen, and for very good reasons, to benefit all of those alive and all of those yet to live. He cared deeply about free software, and he cared deeply about the free culture movement. He worked to advance many other issues. Let us carry on that work, whatever the cost, wherever they may take us.

***Complete Transcription Below***

Lisa: Ladies and Gentlemen, Jacob Appelbaum.

Jacob: First of all, thank you so very much for having me tonight. It’s actually really difficult that I can’t be there in person, and I wish that I could be. And, when Lisa asked me to speak tonight, I actually didn’t feel that I had something to say until I sat down and wrote a text. So, I’m just going to read you a text, and as a result I’m going to cover my camera because there’s nothing worse than watching someone read. So, as you can see there, it’s just a bright white light, and now I’m going to read you this text, and I hope that you can still hear me.

[Crowd chanting “We want Jake!”]

Jacob: (Laughing)

Lisa Rein: Jacob, come back on camera, please. Don’t do it, Jake.

Jacob: I’m sorry. It has to be this way. That’s how it has to be, I’m sorry, but here we go.

Lisa: It’s okay. No, no, no!

Jacob: You can’t fucking be serious. [laughing] Terrible.

Lisa: Jacob, please. Thank you. (Jesus Christ.)

Jacob: Look, I want to see all of you, too, but we don’t get what we want so I’m going to read you this text now.

The first time that I heard Aaron Swartz speak in person was at the Creative Commons release party in San Francisco.

Lisa: Jacob, we’re going to turn it [the podium laptop] around.

Jacob: I was working the door as a security guard, if you can believe that. I think it was in December of 2002. Meeting people in that seemingly weird world mutated life in a good way. Over the years, we crossed paths many times, be it discussions relating to CodeCon, to age limits, or free software, or the Creative Commons, or about crypto, or any other topic. Aaron was an insightful, hilarious, and awesome person.

Aaron and I worked on a few different overlapping projects and I very much respected him. Some of the topics that came up were light, but some were very heavy and very serious. The topic of WikiLeaks was important to both of us. In November of 2009, long before I was public about my work with WikiLeaks, I introduced Aaron to someone at WikiLeaks who shall remain unnamed. If we had a secure and easy way to communicate, if some sort of communication system had existed that had reduced or eliminated metadata, I probably could’ve done so without a trace. But we didn’t. You’re not the first to know, the FBI and the NSA already know.

Less than a year later, Aaron sent me an email that made it clear how he felt. That email in its entirety was straightforward and its lack of encryption was intentional. On July 10, 2010, he wrote, “Just FYI, let me know if there’s anything, ever, I can do to help WikiLeaks.” Did that email cast Aaron as an enemy of the state? Did Aaron worry?

2010 was an extremely rough year. The US government against everyone. The investigation of everyone associated with WikiLeaks stepped up. So many people in Boston were targeted that it was effectively impossible to find a lawyer without a conflict. Everyone was scared. A cold wave passed over everything, and it was followed by hardened hearts from many.

In February of 2011, a few of us were at a party in Boston hosted by danah boyd. Aaron and I walked a third person home. A third person who still wishes to remain unknown. The sense of paranoia was overwhelming, but prudent. The overbearing feeling of coming oppression was crushing for all three of us. All of us said that our days were numbered in some sense. Grand juries, looming indictments, threats, political blacklisting. None of us felt free to speak to one another about anything. One of those people, as I said, still wishes to remain unnamed. We walked through the city without crossing certain areas, because Aaron was worried about being near the properties that MIT owned.

When Aaron took his life, I remember being told by someone in San Francisco, and I didn’t understand. I literally did not understand who they meant or who it could be. It seemed impossible for me to connect the words that were coming out of their mouth with my memories.

Shortly after Aaron was found, WikiLeaks disclosed three facts:

  • Aaron assisted WikiLeaks.
  • Aaron communicated with Julian and others during 2010 and 2011.
  • And Aaron may have even been a source.

I do not believe that these issues are unrelated to Aaron’s persecution, and it is clear that the heavy-handed U.S. prosecution pushed Aaron to take his own life. How sad that he was abandoned by so many in his time of need. Is it really the case that there was no link? Is it really the case that the U.S. prosecutors went after Aaron so harshly because of a couple of Python scripts and some PDFs? No, clearly not.

I wish that Aaron had lived, as we all do. This was the year that brought us the summer of Snowden, and yet it felt like ten years of grief in a single one. It was the last time I spent any time in the U.S., and even now it feels like a distant memory, mostly bad memories. Especially the memory of learning about Aaron.

Only a few months later, in 2013, there was a New Year’s Eve toast with many of us who were being investigated, harassed, and targeted for our work, our associations with WikiLeaks, and for our political beliefs. It was me that stupidly, stupidly said, “We made it.” But I know it was Roger, and I remember it well, when he said, “Not all of us.” And he wasn’t speaking only about Aaron, but him too. And it was heartbreaking to remember, and it was telling of how to cope. How some try to forget, and we do forget, and that it is important to remember. Especially right then and especially right there. Just as it is here, and just as it is right now.

When we learned more details about the U.S. prosecutors, we learned that they considered Aaron a dangerous radical for unspecified reasons. One of the primary reasons is probably the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. This is a good document, and, as many others, I respect it and I admire it. The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto is not as radical as the U.S. prosecutors might consider it. But their fear is telling, so let us say it out loud: We should honor it and we should extend it.

Let’s not only liberate the documents of the world, let us act in solidarity to liberate all of humanity. Let us create infrastructure that resists mass surveillance. Let us enable people to leak documents. And let us also work to infiltrate those organizations that betrayed us. There is a division of labor, and we all bring different skills to the table. Let us all use them in service of a better world, in service of justice.

We must have total transparency about the investigation into Aaron. Why was the Department of Justice grinding their axe with Aaron? Was it really because of JSTOR and the past anger about PACER? That is absurd and unbelievable. It is disproportionate and it is unjust.

One concrete thing that needs to happen is for the FOIA case to be properly resolved. We must find a way to speed up the processing about FOIAs regarding Aaron. Rather than hundreds of documents at a time, we should have all 85,000 at once, and not mediated by MIT, who is partially responsible for the outcome we have today.

And we must not drop the pressure. If you are invited to MIT, I encourage you to decline and to explain that you do so because of MIT’s treatment of Aaron Swartz. But not just Aaron, but those like Star Simpson and Bunnie, who MIT would’ve left to be like Aaron, if the cards had played a little differently.

Here are some things you can do to support the legacy and spirit of Aaron. We can support the development of some of Aaron’s projects like SecureDrop. Kevin, Garrett, Micah, and others are carrying that torch. We can work with them. They’re still with us today. You can come and work with many people at the Tor Project on Tor Browser and Tor Messenger, and other software to be of use to disseminate and to push out information, important information to people that might have otherwise not happened without that software. And you can come and help us make free software for freedom, just as Aaron did.

And there are other projects that need assistance. OnionShare, Let’s Encrypt, GlobalLeaks, Pawn[?], Subgraph, Signal, the Transparency Toolkit, and many more.

But it isn’t just software. There are so many things that can be done. You can write to prisoners of conscience of Aaron’s generation, of my generation, of your generation. Do Jeremy Hammond, Barret Brown, and Chelsea Manning have to die before we work to correct the injustices that they face daily? We can and we should free them.

Here are some things to support each other during the hard times, those with us now and those sure to come in the future. We should support WikiLeaks, an organization under attack for publishing information in the public interest. We should support the EFF. They support people who are at the edge. We should support the ACLU. When others called Edward Snowden a traitor, the ACLU gave him legal support. We should support the Courage Foundation. They are the ones that helped Edward Snowden to seek and to receive asylum and do the same with others that are directly under threat today and those under threat tomorrow. And we should support the Library Freedom Project. They work to educate, to deploy, and to resist, by deploying alternatives in public spaces for everyone today. And together, we are already building, deploying, supporting, and using infrastructure which is not merely a matter of protest, but is an act of resistance in itself, by being a practical alternative.

And there is a legal lesson that we actually must learn in a very hard way, as many communities have learned it already, and it is one where the lawyers in the audience who represent me are already cringing from what I’ve said, but they’ll cringe harder next. We must resist grand juries. We must not bow down. We must band together. And together we can refuse to be isolated. We must resist it every step of the way, never giving them anything, ever, at all, when they wish to persecute us for our political beliefs. And if you feel there is no other choice, drag it out and make it public.

Consider that the core of Aaron’s legacy is not simply about information or about writing software. It is about justice, about fairness, through transparency, through accountability, through consideration. So then let us consider our empire and most of all we must consider our complicity. It is up to us to act and to change things, to fight for the user, but also to consider the world in which he lives. To think as technologists, but to think far beyond only the technology and into our common humanity.

How is this lesson applied to gender and racial inequality? Aaron wasn’t a bigot; he was thoughtful. He was not a homophobic person; he was accepting. He wasn’t a racist; he was unprejudiced. Aaron was kind and compassionate. He fought for free speech. He worked and he supported your anonymity directly with actions, and he worked to free our culture’s knowledge. We must be forward-thinking, not just about winning one or two battles. Not just about one or two legal cases. Rather in a broader sense, towards a movement of movements. The Internet is a terrain of struggle and it will help shape all of the other terrains of struggles to come, and Aaron, Aaron helped to shape that terrain for us, so that we could shape it for others.

Part of what Aaron carried was an understanding that it wasn’t just that something needed to be done. He carried with him the idea that very specific things needed to happen, and for very good reasons, to benefit all of those alive and all of those yet to live. He cared deeply about free software, and he cared deeply about the free culture movement. He worked to advance many other issues. Let us carry on that work, whatever the cost, wherever they may take us.

Aaron was headstrong and hilarious. He was young. Today, he would’ve been 29. Use your time wisely. May you have more time than him, and may you use it as wisely as he did.

Good night.

Cindy Cohn at Aaron Swartz Day 2015


Download mp4       Hi-res files of entire event
CC0

Note: I’m including a full transcription at the bottom of this post. (Thanks to OpenTranscripts.org for their transcriptions of these talks.)

Quotes from Cindy’s Talk:

The Internet is going to be the means by which we do all the rest of the change that we need to do so badly in this world. And that I think there’s enough people now that we really have a movement, and we need to start thinking of ourselves as a movement, and we have to figure out what our next steps are…

Sitting here and listening to all the presentations tonight, seeing the amazing activity out there, seeing the tentacles of what Aaron was a part of in the early days, and in some ways the heart of, in the early days, become a movement. You guys, you’re a movement and thank you so much for doing this. So let’s figure out what our next fights are together and our work is together…

I think if people who want to honor Aaron Swartz do one thing with regard to Congress and then go back to coding, the one thing you should do is say “That law goes no further. It doesn’t get any worse and it doesn’t take any lives.”…

There is some good news in the state of California. We just passed, and we got Governor Brown to sign, a law called CalECPA, which requires the cops, the California state cops, to get a warrant before they go after your information stored with service providers…

It’s time for the legislature and the FBI to get over it. Crypto is here to stay, and all of the tools that we’ve talked about here tonight depend on the ability for people to have strong unbreakable crypto, and we need to stand up for it again. Watch the EFF web site. We’re going to keep talking about this, and you’ll see some causes…

I think we need to send a strong message to the White House that President Obama needs to come out and take a strong stand on crypto, not just say “we’re not going to come after crypto right now, but we may do something later” but to say, “No. Hell no. Americans deserve to have locks on their doors that don’t have backdoor entries for law enforcement.”…

And while the folks in Washington DC like to just wave their hands and say, “You geeks sort it out. Find a way to have a backdoor that only good guys can go in and bad guys can’t,” those of us who know about technology, and more importantly those of us who know about math, know that this is impossible…

I’m so happy to see so many projects being celebrated here that were created or inspired or legally defended by EFF. We’re going to continue to be the support for this community. One of the things that John Perry Barlow taught me years ago is that your rights aren’t given to you, your rights have to be taken. And we’re here today to continue to take our rights.

*** Complete Transcription Below***

Thanks so much for inviting me. When I took over as Executive Director of the EFF in April [2015], many people asked me, “Well, what do you want to do? How do you want to be different than your predecessor, the amazing Shari Steele” who has her own little statue. She’s the only non-Archive person who has a statue in the Archive, and Brewster did that to honor her and the work that we’ve done together.

What I said was, you know I think that there are enough people who care about the Internet, who understand, as my friend Cory Doctorow said, that whatever other issue draws you, if the Internet isn’t free this is the place. The Internet is going to be the means by which we do all the rest of the change that we need to do so badly in this world. And that I think there’s enough people now that we really have a movement, and we need to start thinking of ourselves as a movement, and we have to figure out what our next steps are.

And I have to say, sitting here and listening to all the presentations tonight, seeing the amazing activity out there, seeing the tentacles of what Aaron was a part of in the early days, and in some ways the heart of, in the early days, become a movement. You guys, you’re a movement and thank you so much for doing this. So let’s figure out what our next fights are together and our work is together. But, this has just been very exciting to see, and to see the growth. And, ya know, we lost our dear friend as a result of some really horrible laws and some really horrible policies, but seeing the green shoots that’ve grown as a result of this just does my heart good.

Lisa wanted me to talk a little about CISA, the cybersecurity act. I think that at this point the best thing that this community can do about CISA is first of all continue to talk about how rotten it is, because it’s a really rotten idea. We have a terrible cybersecurity problem. This is the a cybersecurity act that was recently passed out of the Senate.

We have a terrible problem with security on the Internet, as Brewster pointed out, and Congress just passed a bill that doesn’t make anything better and makes several things significantly worse, in the fine tradition of our Congress.

I don’t know that there’s too much we can do in terms of public activism on the bill right now, realistically, because it’s in a conference committee time, which isn’t the time when there are very many members of Congress who are going to pay attention to it. There’s one thing, though, that we have to keep watching on and that you’ll hear EFF and others rally the troops on, and that is the effort to try to put some horrible changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act into this bill. We expect it’s going to come up again, and when it does you’ll hear the rallying cry. And I think if people who want to honor Aaron Swartz do one thing with regard to Congress and then go back to coding, the one thing you should do is say “That law goes no further. It doesn’t get any worse and it doesn’t take any lives.”

We have a couple other policy opportunities that I thought I’d mention to you guys. We just got a really amazing ruling out of the European Court of Justice in the last couple weeks that really points out what a global problem the NSA’s overreach and the surveillance overreach is. It’s got some complicated stuff having to do with the safe harbors and how American companies get to process information related to people all around the world. But the important part for us is to keep a close eye on what happens next, because the old rules have been crossed out and the American companies and the European regulators and the American government are in an intense negotiation about what happens next.

So we’ve got an inflection point opportunity here and we ought to be talking about this European Court of Justice opinion and what it means, because what the European Court of Justice said is the NSA surveillance is not appropriate. For the legal geeks, this is surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Act and Executive Order 12333. What that means is the American government’s view that it can spy on the rest of the world with impunity, that it can do mass spying of people around the world who are not suspected of any crimes, who aren’t targets, who aren’t foreign spies, is unacceptable under European law. It’s a really excellent decision. You guys should all thank Max Schrems, who brought that case.

And there’s a moment now, for the next few months, and I think to the extent that you guys are blogging, writing, tweeting, you should be paying attention to this because we’ve the American companies are really scared. They want to be able to continue to serve Europe, and we need to give them a backbone to say “enough with the surveillance. It’s hurting our business.” And if we could have that argument plus “it’s actually just plain wrong.” We might be able to get somewhere. So please, if you’re watching the policy debates, that’s something to watch.

There is some good news in the state of California. We just passed, and we got Governor Brown to sign, a law called CalECPA, which requires the cops, the California state cops, to get a warrant before they go after your information stored with service providers. This is completely consistent with the values— it’s California taking the lead in a place where frankly the U.S. Congress is unwilling to go, and we’re hoping to spread this across the country. So, for people who are not Californians this is a law to look at if you want to do something locally and try to match or even do one better than California did with that. So we’ve got some good news as well.

And of course one of the other things that we’re going to have to keep an eye on in the policy things is the cryptowars are back. Now, I had the honor of being deeply involved in getting crypto free from government regulation when we did it the first time in the 90s and frankly I’d like to do something else now. So it’s time for the legislature and the FBI to get over it. Crypto is here to stay, and all of the tools that we’ve talked about here tonight depend on the ability for people to have strong unbreakable crypto, and we need to stand up for it again. Watch the EFF web site. We’re going to keep talking about this, and you’ll see some causes.

We just got 100,000 people to sign our savecrypto.org petition, which is going to go to the President now, and the President has to respond to it. It’s not too late, though. If people want to still sign it, I think it’s still available to sign. I think we need to send a strong message to the White House that President Obama needs to come out and take a strong stand on crypto, not just say “we’re not going to come after crypto right now, but we may do something later” but to say, “No. Hell no. Americans deserve to have locks on their doors that don’t have backdoor entries for law enforcement.”

And while the folks in Washington DC like to just wave their hands and say, “You geeks sort it out. Find a way to have a backdoor that only good guys can go in and bad guys can’t,” those of us who know about technology, and more importantly those of us who know about math, know that this is impossible. So we need to make sure that that message starts here from the West Coast and makes it all the way to the East Coast. I hear they know about math out there, too, so it shouldn’t be that hard to explain it. But I think we’re going to have to continue to do some explaining.

So that’s just a quick update of what we’re doing at EFF. I’m so happy to see so many projects being celebrated here that were created or inspired or legally defended by EFF. We’re going to continue to be the support for this community. One of the things that John Perry Barlow taught me years ago is that your rights aren’t given to you, your rights have to be taken. And we’re here today to continue to take our rights.

Thanks.

Micah Lee at Aaron Swartz Day 2015

Download mp4      Hi-res files of entire event
CC0

Note: I’m including a full transcription at the bottom of this post, for safekeeping. Thanks to OpenTranscripts.org for their transcriptions of these talks.

Micha Lee gave a charming first person account of how Ed Snowden first contacted him anonymously, looking for Laura Poitras’ PGP key, and then asked him to please get Glenn Greenwald get set up on PGP.

Next, he explains how SecureDrop enables sources to connect with journalists without having to learn PGP, and how Aaron’s core design is still in use today.

Micah has also written about this entertaining story in much more  splendid detail at The Intercept.

Quotes from Micah’s Talk:

“…two years before Edward Snowden decided to start becoming a whistleblower, Aaron had already done a lot of development work on DeadDrop and was well on his way to making it so that rather than having someone like Ed have to try and send a bunch of plaintext emails to journalists he wants to talk to to convince them to learn how to use PGP and stuff, he made it so that whistleblowers could talk to journalists in less than six months. I think that was pretty amazing…

The one thing is that SecureDrop has come a very long way and it’s really easy to use for sources now. So now if you’re a whistleblower and you want to leak documents, it’s really easy. All you need to do is go and download Tor Browser, go to a web site, click “I’m a new source,” and upload a document. Then you’re done…

…he (Aaron) made it so that whistleblowers could talk to journalists in less than six months. I think that was pretty amazing. And like what Garrett was saying earlier, the core design of DeadDrop is still exactly the same in SecureDrop, and that’s pretty amazing I think that he had such good foresight to figure out what all these technical problems were and try and solve them.– Micah Lee, Co-Founder, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Technologist at The Intercept.

 

***Complete Transcript Below****

Hello. I don’t have a whole lot to say.

When I was thinking about what I would talk about last night, I was reading more about Aaron. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him before he died, but I realized that he passed away on January 11, 2013, and that was actually the same day that I first heard from Edward Snowden.

At the time I didn’t know that it was Edward Snowden. He was anonymous. He sent me an email and it was encrypted. And he was trying to get Laura Poitras’ PGP key and he was saying that—you know, he couldn’t tell me what it was for but I should help Glenn Greenwald learn how to use PGP and it was important.

So I helped out as I could, and it took several months. I kept talking to Glenn and Glenn was into it, but he was also really impatient with learning anything new on the computer and he didn’t really know why it was so important. I didn’t really know why it was so important. There were a couple of false attempts at teaching Glenn PGP, and finally I had a Skype call with him where I helped him set up Pidgin and off-the-record encryption. That was like, five and a half, six months later after I first got that encrypted anonymous email from Snowden. And that was the first time that Snowden was able to have a secure conversation with Glenn Greenwald.

And I was thinking about it. Aaron had already kind of done a lot of work to solve this problem. The year, two years before Edward Snowden decided to start becoming a whistleblower, Aaron had already done a lot of development work on DeadDrop and was well on his way to making it so that rather than having someone like Ed have to try and send a bunch of plaintext emails to journalists he wants to talk to to convince them to learn how to use PGP and stuff, he made it so that whistleblowers could talk to journalists in less than six months. I think that was pretty amazing. And like what Garrett was saying earlier, the core design of DeadDrop is still exactly the same in SecureDrop, and that’s pretty amazing I think that he had such good foresight to figure out what all these technical problems were and try and solve them.

I guess the one thing is that SecureDrop has come a very long way and it’s really easy to use for sources now. So now if you’re a whistleblower and you want to leak documents, it’s really easy. All you need to do is go and download Tor Browser, go to a web site, click “I’m a new source,” and upload a document. Then you’re done, and you don’t have to go through all of this having to be a technical expert and having to train the journalists and all this stuff. But the hard part is that it’s still not nearly as easy for journalists to use. So, in fact, Glenn Greenwald doesn’t use SecureDrop himself. Instead, other people who have more time and patience with technical stuff use it and talk to him about it if there’s stuff for him.

So there’s still a lot more work to be done in this area, and I just really wish that Aaron were still around to help with this, because I think that he would contribute greatly on his project.

And that’s all that I have to say.

Friends of Aaron Video From Aaron Swartz Day 2015 – Video and Full Transcription

Complete Transcription of the Friends of Aaron movie, including: Cory Doctorow, Brewster Kahle, Cindy Cohn and Virgil Griffith.

From the November 7, 2015 evening event at the Internet Archive, in San Francisco, before the speakers.

“Hi, I’m Cory Doctorow. Welcome to the third annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon.”

Now a Few Words from a Few Friends of Aaron’s

Cory Doctorow
Blogger, BoingBoing, Science Fiction Author,                                              Little Brother/Homeland
Special Advisor, Electronic Frontier Foundation

You know. I knew Aaron for a really long time. And when we first met, people who cared about the Internet were a bit weird. It was as though we were really interested in something trivial and futuristic and speculative, while all around us raged really important battles about more significant issues. Issues about climate change. Issues about financial fairness. Issues about privacy. Issues about race and gender.

And what we’ve found in the years since then is that those other issues have gotten even more urgent, but more and more people have come to realize that the Internet is the fight that will determine how all those other fights go on. Because the Internet is the battlefield on which all those fights will be fought.

And so it’s really crucial that we win the Internet. Not because the Internet is more important than everything else, but because it’s the most foundational thing.

I hope you have a great day at the International Hackathon.

Brewster Kahle
Founder and Digital Librarian
Internet Archive

Aaron Swartz lives in many many ways. Aaron Swartz’ ideas have been carried forward by many others, and in fact, tragically, by his persecution, prosecution, and death, has come to be widely known to others.

The idea of public access to the public domain. That we can live open source lives freely, and that it’s desirable, and you meet new and interesting people.

And the lesson of Aaron Swartz has not been forgotten by the institutions that participated in having him crushed, and has led to reforms, top and bottom, of those organizations, to not have that ever happen again. So, public access, public domain, living open source lives, should be encouraged for the next generation, and made safe by the institutions that are too slowly learning their lessons.

Cindy Cohn
Executive Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Aaron has left us all such a legacy of caring about the politics around technology and not just caring, but getting involved. And whether you’re getting involved as a technologist or an activist you can have no better loadstar than Aaron. I have watched as he’s inspired people all over the world.

We haven’t had success in building things in DC, to help fix things. Aaron’s law has gotten stalled. However, we’ve been able to stop the bad. There have been several attempts, and there’s one right now, in the Cybersecurity to continue on the horrible pathway of making the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act worse and worse and worse. And, we stopped it cold, shortly after Aaron died. We’ve gotten it dramatically changed this time, and I think we’re gonna stop it cold again. So, while we haven’t yet been able to make good out of what happened to Aaron, we’ve been able to stop some bad. I’m not done yet. It’s still early days. But, I still run into people all the time who tell me that learning about Aaron was the moment. Their “wake up” moment. When they decided, “I care about technology too, and I want to get involved.” And that’s awesome!

Virgil Griffith
Technologist d’Avant-Garde
Tor2Web, WikiScanner

So after Aaron Swartz’ death, there was a rash of suicides at Cal Tech, where I was at school. (Unrelated!) And they had a little suicide thing. And I gave a little talk there, and I’ve been thinking about it recently. And I remember what I told them. I said “even when you feel like crap. You’re like ‘I can’t do anything.’ ‘I’m no good.’ ‘I spend like four days out of the week sleeping.’ ‘I’m only productive one day a week, tops.’ I would say, “even that one day a week, is more valuable than you would ever realize.”

I used Aaron as an explicit example. Even though Aaron was not even near (pauses). He was definitely not thriving. He was in surviving, not thriving mode. But still, even him in surviving mode was like amazing. You know. But I think he just couldn’t see it.

And I feel like Aaron was making this mistake as well. Okay so, Aaron would kind of flip between being egotistical and being very self deprecating. So, internally, he though of himself very highly, but outwardly he’d be very self deprecating. I felt like just in general, he did not appreciate, like, his own importance and the things he could do. Even if Aaron was active one day a week. Well that’s awesome. A one day a week Aaron, I’ll take it. I’ll totally take it. Ya know. And I think he would have really had difficulty, seeing that, as useful to the world. He’d be like “oh I’m so unproductive. I’m so ungood. Blah blah blah blah. No no no. One day a week’s great.

Brewster Kahle (ending comments):

Aaron Swartz has inspired hackathons, yearly gatherings of people remembering and moving forward some of the ideas of SecureDrop, of going and building public access to journal literature, to basically building a public sphere that may not be tied to institutions, certainly not tied to business plans, but tied to an inspiring vision, of information access and living open source lives. Aaron Swartz lives on in many many ways.

Video and Transcripts From Aaron Swartz Day 2015

Please donate to my Kickstarter for “From DeadDrop to SecureDrop” – Thanks!!

Index of Speakers and Direct Links to Video and Transcriptions

Giovanni Damiola (Open Library Project)
YouTubeVideo – Transcript

Garrett Robinson (Lead Programmer, SecureDrop)
YouTubeVideoTranscript

Alison Macrina (Founder and Director, Library Freedom Project)
YouTubeVideoTranscript

Brewster Kahle (Digital Librarian, Internet Archive)
YouTubeVideoTranscript

Cindy Cohn (Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
YouTubeVideoTranscript

Jacob Appelbaum (Security Expert seen in Citizen Four, Wikileaks volunteer) (Appearing remotely via Jitsi)
YouTubeVideoTranscript Internet Archive Video & Download

Roger Dingledine (Interim Executive Director, Tor Project)
YouTubeVideoTranscript

Micah Lee (Co-founder, Freedom of the Press Foundation and Technologist at “The Intercept”)
YouTubeVideo – Transcript Internet Archive Video & Download

A Special Statement from Chelsea Manning: “The Human Element”
(Read by Lisa Rein)
YouTubeVideoTranscript – Link to Chelsea’s Statement

 

“Terminal F” Explains How Julian Assange and Sarah Harrison Helped Snowden Get Asylum In Russia

If you haven’t seen this yet, you are in for a treat.

The film features Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, and Sarah Harrison, explaining first hand, how they managed to assist Snowden on his journey from Hong Kong to the Moscow Airport, and, eventually, to safety (obtaining political asylum in Russia).

Come to our celebration of hackers and whistleblowers that make the world a better place, November 7th, 7:30 pm. (Reception 6pm.)
(Tickets $10, $20, Free)

Join Lawrence Lessig’s New Hampshire Rebellion January Walk

From Lawrence Lessig:

On the morning of January 11, the anniversary of the death of my friend, Aaron Swartz, and at the place where the voting in America’s 2016 presidential election will start, Dixville Notch, we will begin the second of three walks across the state of New Hampshire.

We will also be honoring Doris “Granny D” Haddock who walked from LA to DC at the age of 88 because she understood the biggest obstacle to solving any important issue in America today — regardless of political viewpoint — is the role of money in politics.

Politicians believe America doesn’t get this. We’re walking to prove them wrong: https://walk.nhrebellion.org.

For eleven days — January 11th through 21st — we will walk across New Hampshire with hundreds of citizens demonstrating that New Hampshire and the nation want to know how our elected leaders are going to end the corrupting influence of money in politics. We demand a solution. And we’d like your help.

Please join us in New Hampshire and walk with us: https://walk.nhrebellion.org or volunteer: http://www.nhrebellion.org/volunteer.

If you can’t join the walk, you can still support us other ways:

– Register as a virtual walker: https://walk.nhrebellion.org

– Support my walk: https://walk.nhrebellion.org/lessig

– Donate your Twitter and Facebook accounts:        https://donateyouraccount.com/nhrebellion

– Read about last year’s walk and share with your friends:
https://medium.com/backchannel/larry-lessigs-long-walk-b96d80d34972

Join us. Support us. And please spread this idea.

 

Lisa Rein’s Opening Remarks At Aaron Swartz Day at the Internet Archive

Link to video herelisarein.

Thank you everyone for coming. We have a lot of material to cover tonight, and then a whole movie to watch afterwards, so I will keep my opening remarks brief and to the point.

This year’s event’s theme is “setting the record straight” so that we can move forward. To me, this means providing a better understanding of Aaron’s actions, and how the entire situation became a misunderstanding of epic proportions that pretty much spiraled out of control.

There are a few initiatives underway designed to prevent this from ever happening again, and aimed at protecting innovators, such as Aaron, from relentless prosecution by third parties that don’t understand the nuances of the parties involved. We’ll hear from the EFF’s April Glaser, who will tell us about the upcoming Freedom to Innovate conference, which is designed to protect future student innovators from legal prosecution that victimized Aaron.

Through a combination of learning more about Aaron’s case, which we are going to do tonight, and having access to things like Aaron’s FBI and Secret Service files, which we are beginning to be released to us little by little, thanks to Kevin Poulsen’s Freedom of Information Act requests – can we begin the process of fully understanding what happened to Aaron, so that we can be sure to try to stop it from happening to anyone else.

Cindy Cohn, soon to be the EFF’s new Executive Director, will explain to us why CFAA reform is firmly stalled in both houses. (Probably now more than ever.) Finally, Dan Purcell, from what was Aaron’s new legal team, is here tonight to help us understand what their strategy was going to be for clearing his name at trial.

2013 and 2014 were big year’s for many of Aaron’s projects and ideas. He received a posthumous EFF Pioneer Award in 2013, and was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame as well that year, on the same night as Vint Cerf and John Perry Barlow. Aaron surely would have been pleased to be in such distinguished company.

I think he would also be pleased to see his DeadDrop prototype blossom into the SecureDrop whistleblowing submission platform that now has 15 instances in full swing, protecting leakers from our government’s spying eyes, and enabling submissions to prestigious news organizations such as The Guardian, The Washington Post, the New Yorker, and Forbes. I also think he would’ve been proud to see his mentor Lawrence Lessig and his MAYDAY PAC team raise over 10 million dollars to fund congressional candidates committed to fundamental campaign finance reform. Remember, Aaron is the one who challenged Lessig to set out on his new course, way back in 2007.

So join us tonight, along with hackathoners in 12 16 cities around the world, as we celebrate Aaron, set the record straight about not only what he did not do, but about what was done to him, and try to find a way to move forward together, and continue to make the world a better place. Thank you.

‘Inspiration for people, threat to US govt’ – Aaron Swartz film director to RT

Aaron RT2‘Inspiration for people, threat to US govt’ – Aaron Swartz film director to RT

November 9, 2014   for RT

Download link to video piece that goes with this article.

From the interview:

RT: Aaron Swartz was basically driven to suicide for standing up to the government for what he believes in. Do you think his fate will put others off following in his footsteps?

Brian Knappenberger: No. I mean I think that treatment of Aaron Swartz was awful and it was outrageous. But I actually think that if it was meant to be a kind of persecution to put people off of this kind of behavior, I think it backfired. If it was meant as deterrence, or it was meant to make an example, as the prosecution said to Aaron’s dad and to Aaron’s council, I think that effort, probably, backfired.

People are inspired, looked at what he did and are inspired by it. I don’t think that the legal efforts against him actually would put off future Aarons. And if anything they’ll inspire them.