(Nov 21 notes as Published on Friday November 25, 2020)
November 28th meeting agenda will pick up where these left off plus a few other items – coming soon :)
RSVP for our meeting Saturday December 5th at 2pm pst/5pm est 10pm GMT by DMing us at @AaronSwartzDay on twitter or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We will not be posting the URL publicly – so be sure to RSVP ahead of time, if you’d like to attend.
These notes are not intended to describe everything that was discussed in the meeting. They are here to provide summaries of the project-oriented discussions.
- Q&A on Aaron’s Case
- Criminal Justice Reform Project: Legal Defense Fund Equality Act
- Tinfoil Chat – Testing
- Metadata Stripping Tool
- Prisoner support project
- The Condemnation of Little B (Book Suggestion)
- No One Is Illegal (Book Suggestion)
- Hackathon Technology Projects
- Hackathon Activism Projects
We had six people in our first meeting and everyone introduced themselves.
Q&A on Aaron’s Case
1) Lisa answered some questions about Aaron’s life and his case, what she presented at Aaron Swartz Day 2020.
–Plea Bargaining as Torture Talk from Brewster 2014
–The movie “The Internet’s Own Boy” by Brian Knappenberger https://archive.org/details/TheInternetsOwnBoyTheStoryOfAaronSwartz
–Kevin Poulsen’s 2014 talk regarding Aaron’s FBI file and Poulsen’s court case against the DHS to obtain documents from it, and also how MIT intervened as a third party and won the right to further redact any documents as it sees fit before they were handed over to Kevin. Files are available at swartzfiles.org
–Ryan Shapiro’s January 11, 2018 talk about his FOIA lawsuit over Aaron’s FBI file, and the discovery that the FBI had given him an erroneous classification as being involved in an Al Qaeda terrorist investigation from a single email to the University of Pittsburg.
2) Noah Troy spoke about Priveasy, an open source, community-run internet privacy and security services organization he founded.
Priveasy is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing essential digital rights services with maximum transparency. Journalists and citizens alike can protect themselves with privacy services such as a VPN, obfuscated proxy, URL encapsulation, burner text messaging, burner email, a pastebin, email forwarding, and more! All services are provided at cost and built with privacy, security, and transparency in mind. Priveasy is 100% open source, from top to bottom, and never uses any form of trackers, fingerprinting, or analytics on its website or in its services.
Noah is currently looking to build the community around Priveasy, and would love to attract new contributors and users. If you’re interested in learning more about Priveasy, feel free to check out the links below:
If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Priveasy can be found on Signal (+1 (336) 439-8765), Keybase (@Priveasy), Twitter (@Priveasy1), and via email (Support@Priveasy.org).
3) New project suggestion re: Criminal Justice Reform – The Legal Defense Fund Equality Act:
Use math to try to solve social issues, version 1: Any money paid to a lawyer for the purposes of litigation would need to be matched dollar for dollar in a restricted bank account by the prosecution. Money would only be able to be withdrawn from this account for the purposes of funding a legal defense. If the amount spent on the defense exceeds what is available in this account, the defendant would likewise have to match all funds spent on legal fees into a second restricted account which the prosecution would have access to for the purposes of legal fees only.
The modifier in the equation can be modified based on research into how much it actually costs to mount a compelling legal defense vs how much it typically costs to charge people with crimes they did not actually commit.
As an example, assuming a 50/50 split with no modifier: Bob decides to sue Alice. He pays his lawyer $100. The lawyer would only be able to use $50 of that money. The other $50 would be placed into a bank account designated for Alice’s legal defense. Other lawyers might be able to see that the money is out there, and contact Alice offering their services.
Let’s say Alice is a multimillionaire (unlikely) with several lawyers on payroll. In this scenario, the lawyers assigned to Alice’s case would be required to keep logs of how many hours they spent on the case. Either Alice, or the lawyers themselves, would be required to deposit money matching the proportion of the lawyer’s total compensation which was spent mounting Alice’s legal defense.
So if 3 lawyers are being paid $200,000 / year each just to handle Alice’s legal affairs, and they work an average of 60 hours a week each, and they spend 15 hours each mounting a legal defense to defend Alice from Bob’s allegations, Alice or the lawyers themselves would be required to deposit about $2834 into a restricted account marked for Bob’s litigation. That’s $2884 minus the $50 from the account created by Bob when starting this case.
In this way, the small fry would always have access to funds, and the big fish will always have to pay more. This will ensure that no side has the upper hand based on financials alone.
Now, at the end of all of this financial ping-pong, the courts would still be able to rule that Alice or Bob were responsible for paying the opposing side’s legal fees, the same as always. But before the trial happens, the opportunity for financial inequality to determine the outcome of the trial would be limited.
Eli is still in the bouncing ideas off of people phase of this project. Since something on this scale with regulations and so on would require a law to be passed, the name “Legal Defense Fund Equality Act” was thrown around. Eli is open to renaming it. Please share feedback on the #LegalDefenseFundEqualityAct channel of our discord. Eli is “StrangeCharm” on our discord.
4) New project suggestion by Ryan Sternlicht:
There is a Noisebridge encrypted chat project called “Tinfoil Chat” that may be in good enough shape for testing soon. Those interested should contact Ryan Sternlicht at …. for more information.
5) New project suggestion from an attendee: Metadata Stripping Tool
An easy to use tool for stripping metadata from documents – theoretically for cleaning up documents before they might be sent to a reporter using SecureDrop. Note that, ideally, it’s probably safer to create new documents with the information pasted into them, then to use a metadata stripper on them, but if there are a big “stack” of documents, a metadata stripper could be useful, as long as the removal of metadata could be verified somehow. Note that there is a metadata stripping tool in Tails OS that could be used as a model.
6) New project suggestion from Lisa Rein:
A prisoner support project that will teach techniques for helping your prisoner feel more empowered.
Writing letters is a good start. Being available for phone calls. Starting a twitter account for them (if desired). Conducting fundraisers for commissary and phone calls. And keeping a log of incidents so your prisoner can forget about them (while still keeping a record of them for the future). How to deal with administrative paperwork in prisons. For this project – folks should contact Lisa Rein at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can conduct research around the rules and regulations for your individual prisoners facility.
7) Book suggestion by Lisa Rein:
The Condemnation of Little B, by Elaine Brown
This book is about how a 13 year old teen ager was tried as an adult for a murder he did not commit, and how a career driven District Attorney (Paul Howard) and Mayor (in Atlanta in the 90s) decided to make Little B an example of the crime in the city that needed to be cleaned up.
Note: Although Aaron Swartz was 24, not 13, when he was railroaded, there are a lot of similarities between Aaron’s story and Little B’s. Namely the existence of a career-driven prosecutor that wasn’t concerned with the truth, hell bent on a mission to make a name for himself. (like Stephen Heymann)
8) Book suggestion by Keri:
No One Is Illegal- Fighting Racism & State Violence on the US-Mexico Border by Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis
Related to prisoner support and close the concentration camps projects, this book provides a comprehensive history of Latin American immigrant struggle in the US.
It discusses how the US-Mexican border was established (until 1848 the Mexican border reached as far north as Washington state) and explains how the political project of creating the status of “illegal” human beings was accomplished. The book later goes on to contemporary immigrant struggle under Obama and Trump, showing the rise of ICE and the limits of recent reforms.
Haymarket is having a sale through Jan:
Appendix – Links to ongoing hackathon projects:
- Lisa Rein, SwartzManning VR Museum, Art Gallery & Funhouse
- Internet Archive, Internet Archive’s Scholar – Help the Internet archive test their latest alpha search tool & give them detailed feedback.
- Benjamin Fenigsohm, Papermache – an open access publishing platform that enables students to curate a personal portfolio of completed academic work http://www.papermache.fyi/
- Danny O’Brien’s “People’s Pollster” talk from our November 14 event —- Danny can be contacted at email@example.com – and if you don’t hear back let me know and I’ll get his attention. Let’s build this project! Danny is completely open to collaborating on building this project. Now. For realz.
- Link from Danny’s talk: https://github.com/rethinkpriorities/rp_2020_benchmarking_poll
- Second Link from Danny’s Talk: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c64375df4e5314e7985012c/t/5f998f048ef3c11dadf5ddc1/1603899141511/Biden+at+%2B9.8+support+nationally+in+Rethink+Priorities+poll,+Dems+%2B5.3+for+Congress.pdf
- Note that Aaron Swartz did this for real; and had an actual prototype that gave reasonably good results. So if you want to follow in Aaron’s footsteps, here’s your chance. It could be super important in the 2022 mid-term elections, and in all elections, moving forward. ok thanks!
- Open Library (User Testing, Programming, Writing/Research)
- Internet Archive Experiments (Programming, User Testing, Writing/Research)
- Internet Archive APIs
- Priveasy.org – Contact: Noah Troy – email: Admin at Priveasy.org
- Priveasy is an open source community-driven internet privacy and security organization.
- Your great project here
- Dave Maass, EFF – Atlas of Surveillance – Background
- Dave Maass, EFF – Atlas of Surveillance – How volunteers can help crowd source data
- Will Howes, Aaron Swartz Timeline Project
- Lisa Rein, Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project (Writing/Research)
- RSS News Reader Revival (Programming, Writing, Research)
- The Society Library
- Prisoner Support Training: General support and also tailored to your prisoner
- #CloseTheCampsNowJoe (Close the concentration camps project)
- #PickSomeoneElseJoe (promoting better staff picks)
- Mutual Aid education and setup
- Your great project here