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Julian Assange

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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar


Smári McCarthy, in his Twitter bio, describes himself as a "Information freedom activist. Executive Director of IMMI. Pirate."

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On Friday, two Icelandic activists with previous connections to WikiLeaks announced that they received newly unsealed court orders from Google. Google sent the orders earlier in the week, revealing that the company searched and seized data from their Gmail accounts—likely as a result of a grand jury investigation into the rogue whistleblower group.

Google was forbidden under American law from disclosing these orders to the men until the court lifted this restriction in early May 2013. (A Google spokesperson referred Ars to its Transparency Report for an explanation of its policies.)

On June 21, 2013, well-known Irish-Icelandic developer Smári McCarthy published his recently un-sealed court order dating back to July 14, 2011. Google sent him the order, which included McCarthy's Gmail account metadata, the night before. The government cited the Stored Communications Act (SCA)(specifically a 2703(d) order) as grounds to provide this order.

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Original author: 
Sam Byford

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Eric Schmidt may have stepped down as Google CEO in 2011, but he hasn't been any less vocal in his current role as executive chairman. Schmidt is known for his outspoken views and often provocative statements on just about everything in the technology world — follow this StoryStream to keep track of them all.

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Original author: 
Sam Byford

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Google chairman Eric Schmidt and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange secretly met in 2011 and held a lengthy interview, according to a transcript published on the whistleblowing site. The leak is surprisingly timely — Schmidt was apparently conducting research with Jared Cohen for the pair's book The New Digital Age, which is set to be released on Tuesday. Assange was under house arrest in England at the time the five-hour conversation took place.

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Bradley Manning.

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Over the course of two hours in a military courtroom today, Bradley Manning explained why—and in precise detail, how—he sent WikiLeaks confidential diplomatic cables and "war logs." Bradley's 35-page statement, read over the course of a few hours this afternoon, followed the news that he had pleaded guilty to 10 lesser counts among the many charges against him. The admissions were not part of a plea bargain; Manning still faces trial in June on the most serious charges, such as "aiding the enemy."

The Guardian's Ed Pilkington sets the scene:

Manning was flanked by his civilian lawyer, David Coombs, on one side and two military defence lawyers on the other. Wearing full uniform, the soldier read out the document at high speed, occasionally stumbling over the words and at other points laughing at his own comments.

The American people had the right to know "the true costs of war," Manning said in court today today. He continued:

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When Joel Spolsky, my business partner on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, asked me what I wanted to do after I left Stack Exchange, I distinctly remember mentioning Aaron Swartz. That's what Aaron was to us hackers: an exemplar of the noble, selfless behavior and positive action that all hackers aspire to – but very few actually achieve.

And now, tragically, Aaron is gone at the tender age of 26. He won't be achieving anything any more.

I never knew Aaron, but I knew Aaron.

Aaron-swartz-stack-overflow

Most of all, I am disappointed.

I'm deeply disappointed in myself, for not understanding just how bitterly unfair the government charges were against Aaron. Perhaps the full, grotesque details couldn't be revealed for a pending legal case. But we should have been outraged. I am gutted that I did not contribute to his defense in any way, either financially or by writing about it here. I blindly assumed he would prevail, as powerful activists on the side of fairness, openness, and freedom are fortunate enough to often do in our country. I was wrong.

I'm disappointed in our government, for going to such lengths to make an example of someone who was so obviously a positive force. Someone who actively worked to change the world for the better in everything he did, starting from the age of 12. There was no evil in this man. And yet the absurd government case against him was cited by his family as directly contributing to his death.

I'm frustrated by the idea that martyrdom works. The death of Aaron Swartz is now turning into an effective tool for change, a rallying cry, proving the perverse lesson that nobody takes an issue seriously until a great person dies for the cause. The idea that Aaron killing himself was a viable strategy, more than going on to prevail in this matter and so many more in his lifetime, makes me incredibly angry.

But also, I must admit that I am a little disappointed in Aaron. I understand that depression is a serious disease that can fell any person, however strong. But he chose the path of the activist long ago. And the path of the activist is to fight, for as long and as hard as it takes, to effect change. Aaron had powerful friends, a powerful support network, and a keen sense of moral cause that put him in the right. That's how he got that support network of powerful friends and fellow activists in the first place.

It is appropriate to write about Aaron on Martin Luther King day, because he too was a tireless activist for moral causes.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Let's be clear that the penalty in Aaron's case was grossly unfair, bordering on corrupt. I've been a part of exactly one trial, but I can't even imagine having the full resources of the US Government brought to bear against me, with extreme prejudice, for a year or more. His defense was estimated to cost millions. The idea that such an engaged citizen would be forever branded a felon – serving at least some jail time and stripped of the most fundamental citizenship right, the ability to vote – must have weighed heavily on Aaron. And Aaron was no stranger to depresson, having written about it on his blog many times, even penning a public will of sorts on his blog all the way back in 2002.

I think about ragequitting a lot.

Rage Quit, also seen as RageQuit in one word, is Internet slang commonly used to describe the act of suddenly quitting a game or chatroom after either an argument, extreme frustration, or loss of the game.

At least one user ragequits Stack Exchange every six months, because our rules are strict. Some people don't like rules, and can respond poorly when confronted by the rules of the game they choose to play. It came up often enough that we had to create even more rules to deal with it. I was forced to think about ragequitting.

I was very angry with Mark Pilgrim and _why for ragequitting the Internet, because they also took all their content offline – they got so frustrated that they took their ball and went home, so nobody else could play. How incredibly rude. Ragequitting is childish, a sign of immaturity. But it is another thing entirely to play the final move and take your own life. To declare the end of this game and all future games, the end of ragequitting itself.

I say this not as a person who wishes to judge Aaron Swartz. I say it as a fellow gamer who has also considered playing the same move quite recently. To the point that I – like Aaron himself, I am sure – was actively researching it. But the more I researched, the more I thought about it, the more it felt like what it really was: giving up. And the toll on friends and family would be unimaginably, unbearably heavy.

What happened to Aaron was not fair. Not even a little. But this is the path of the activist. The greater the injustice, the greater wrong undone when you ultimately prevail. And I am convinced, absolutely and utterly convinced, that Aaron would have prevailed. He would have gone on to do so many other great things. It is our great failing that we did not provide Aaron the support network he needed to see this. All we can do now is continue the mission he started and lobby for change to our corrupt government practices of forcing plea bargains.

It gets dark sometimes. I know it does. I'm right there with you. But do not, under any circumstances, give anyone the satisfaction of seeing you ragequit. They don't deserve it. Play other, better moves – and consider your long game.

[advertisement] Stack Overflow Careers matches the best developers (you!) with the best employers. You can search our job listings or create a profile and even let employers find you.

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Here’s something that shouldn’t surprise anyone: it’s open-season on online information and, as far as targets go, you’re just a fat, awkward turkey. Facebook and Google record what you’re chatting about, and all the government has to do to get it is give the secret knock.

Humanitarian hacker Nadim Kobeissi is changing a thing or two about that, however. Like many dedicated netizens, the Lebanese-born 21-year-old worries about a growing lack of privacy in our online communications. He’s also a big fan of cute animals. Thus Cryptocat — a free encrypted chat application with retro graphics and feline-themed emoticons — was born.

Open-source and secure, the year-old, ever-growing project offers group instant messaging that works on web browsers and mobile phones and includes file-sharing services. Unlike more invasive applications like Google Talk or Facebook chat, Cryptocat encrypts your conversations with top-secret-worthy AES-256 and deletes them when you’re done talking, so no one, not even Kobeissi, can snoop on you or collect data. And it also runs as a Tor hidden service (http://xdtfje3c46d2dnjd.onion), for added protection from snoop dogs.

Whether you’re an investigative reporter or an Iranian activist — or you just don’t want your boss all up in your business, Cryptocat keeps private conversations private. As Kobeissi says, “You don’t have to trust anyone you don’t want to trust with your communications, because you shouldn’t have to trust them in the first place.”

Kobeissi is a student of political science and philosophy at Concordia University, in Montreal, Canada. We spoke via Skype about altruistic hacking, sticking it to venture capitalists, sweet 8-bit tunes, and his future tattoo plans.

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Watch the first-ever live global debate on the War on Drugs today on Google+, hosted by Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson at 7pm GMT/ 2pm EST. Details on the webcast here.

Participants will include...

Julian Assange; Russell Brand and Misha Glenny; Geoffrey Robertson and Eliot Spitzer: experts, orators and celebrities who’ve made this their cause, are set to lock horns in a new debate format. Some of our speakers will be on stage in London's Kings Place in front of a ticketed audience, and others will join in from Mexico City, São Paulo or New Orleans, made possible through Google+ Hangouts; a live multi-person video platform.

About the content of the debate, Branson writes:

We’ve carried out two surveys in the last two weeks, one where we asked Twitter, Facebook and Google+ users globally whether they thought the war on drugs had failed, and one UK-specific survey through YouGov.In the global online poll, 91% agreed that the war on drugs has failed. Over 90% also thought that providing treatment for addiction would be a better approach than putting people in jail.Meanwhile, over 95% of 12,090 people surveyed online globally think governments should open the debate to look for other ways then jail to solve the drugs issue. More than 81% of people surveyed globally also agreed that drug use would decrease if governments focused on treatment and stopped putting people in jail for minor drug offences.

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schwit1 passes on this snippet from Public Intelligence: "A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity. The document, part of a program called 'Communities Against Terrorism,' lists the use of 'anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address' as a sign that a person could be engaged in or supporting terrorist activity. The use of encryption is also listed as a suspicious activity along with steganography, the practice of using 'software to hide encrypted data in digital photos' or other media. In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone 'overly concerned about privacy' or attempting to 'shield the screen from view of others' should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities. ... The use of PGP, VPNs, Tor or any of the many other technologies for anonymity and privacy online are directly targeted by the flyer, which is distributed to businesses in an effort to promote the reporting of these activities."


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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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