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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Anonymous
I don't know who writes Anonymous' releases, but they are pretty good. Take today's hack of the USSC:
Quote:
However, in order for there to be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, certain things need to happen. There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment. There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea. The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

I found only one spelling error in the entire thing. However many leet-speek script kiddies they may have there, they also have a pretty decent word-slinger or two.


Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:03 am
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Anonymous
As much as I try to admire Anonymous's efforts, their missives, like this one, convey an incredible sense of being tippy-top full of themselves. For every valid point they make, they seem to make multiples that sound like the anti-RIAA rants of a few years back that boil down to "I'm a broke college student and therefore I shouldn't have to pay anything for music."

I am still unclear on why I am supposed to mourn Aaron Swartz. He poked a tiger in the ass and, rather predictably, got mauled pretty good. I am sorry when anyone too young to see through their problems opts for the egress, but I don't see how his not being strong enough to stand up to the storm he created is a separate and special tragedy caused by government jackboots.

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Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:37 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
It is a matter of proportionality, doubtless enshrined somewhere in the criminal code in a Latin tag. Making any kind of error should not lay someone open to the entire gamut of punishment. If someone gets a parking ticket and the judge orders his hands cut off, we don't shrug and say, "Well, his fault for overstaying the meter."

The official reaction here was way over the top. The complaint appears to be that he took too many copies of documents he was entitled to get free of charge anyway, like borrowing too many books at the library. For this he was facing 35 years in the slammer. And the library he accessed ended up being made open to the public anyway.

I also find the entire Anonymous response to be spot on in its analysis of American jurisprudence, a more pedestrian but no less trenchant poke in the eye than And Justice for All. Of course, the DoJ hasn't the slightest intention of reforming anything. So it will be interesting to see what the "warheads" are.


Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:27 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
“The complaint appears to be that he took too many copies of documents he was entitled to get free of charge anyway, like borrowing too many books at the library.”

This is a vast oversimplification of things. The complaints against him include:

Wire Fraud 18 U.S.C. 1343
Computer Fraud 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4)
Unauthorized Access 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C) and 18 U.S.C. 1030(c)(2)(B)(iii)
Computer Damage 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(5)(B) and 1030(c)(4)(A)(i)(I) & (VI)

The terms and licenses of every commercial database I’ve ever seen or used prohibit wholesale downloading of large quantities of articles. Swartz downloaded something like 4 million articles – far beyond what he might have been “entitled to get free of charge anyway”. When JSTOR realized that someone (Swartz) was engaging in bulk downloading, they blocked his IP address and he spoofed a new one. When JSTOR informed MIT that this was continuing, he also spoofed his computer’s MAC address. He even went into a comm closet and wired his computer directly into the network, and returned to it later to swap out hard drives which had filled. JSTOR ultimately suspended the entire MIT account (disrupting the rest of the MIT community’s legitimate access).

Previous statements and actions by Swartz made it reasonable to believe that Swartz intended to download everything JSTOR had, and broadly disseminate (like the Wikileaks files).

This is much more than borrowing extra library books. Swartz overtly, and with premeditation, took data to which he was clearly not entitled. He did it in a way that demonstrated intent and evasiveness. He took steps to hide his identity. He knew he was breaking the rules, and he tried not to get caught.

That Swartz felt so overwhelmed by his circumstances that he took his own life is a tragedy. There have been some wonderful things accomplished by Civil Disobedience. But I’m with Jim on this one -- if you are going to break the law, it is foolish to expect the law to let it slide.

If you want to argue that these laws are bad laws, or that prosecutors will throw everything onto the wall to see what sticks, or that the whole plea-bargain process is a travesty, those are discussions worth having. But Swartz was intelligent enough that he should not have been surprised at the situation he ended up in – this is how the government works, and none of how it was specifically applied to Swartz’s case was particularly unusual.

“And the library he accessed ended up being made open to the public anyway.” JSTOR has opened up access to a limited amount of their database (the pre-1922, out-of-copyright stuff), and now allows individuals to do limited (3 articles every 2 weeks) downloads of subsets of their copyrighted journal files. This is far from the whole library, which is what Swartz was ultimately after.


Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
BillMullins wrote:
If you want to argue that these laws are bad laws, or that prosecutors will throw everything onto the wall to see what sticks, or that the whole plea-bargain process is a travesty, those are discussions worth having.


Yes, that's exactly the discussion I'm having. Thirty-five years incarceration. In Massachusetts, that is seven times the mandatory sentencing guideline minimum for rape or armed robbery, four times the guideline for manslaughter, over one-and-a-half times the maximum permitted sentence for manslaughter or rape of a child with force, nearly twice the maximum permitted sentence for for attempted murder, armed robbery, or rape. That is not a proportionate response. That is cruel and unusual punishment. These were not state secrets or sensitive documents.

Once again, I am not debating that he did something wrong and knew it. I am questioning the level of the reaction. If you break the speed limit you know you deserve a ticket. You do not expect to get five years in the slammer, not unless you hit someone, which becomes a different offense.

The Computer Damage and Wire Fraud are charges of convenience, something that they can levy against anyone who used a computer to do something they don't like. If you email someone an attachment and it turns out to contain a spam virus you just violated both of those statutes.


Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:51 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
PeterScott wrote:
In Massachusetts, that is seven times the mandatory sentencing guideline minimum for rape or armed robbery, four times the guideline for manslaughter, over one-and-a-half times the maximum permitted sentence for manslaughter or rape of a child with force, nearly twice the maximum permitted sentence for for attempted murder, armed robbery, or rape.


True. But if you commit one of these acts, the government can no doubt file multiple charges with terms which sum up to much more than these minimum amounts.

Thirty five years was a scare tactic to get Swartz to plead. No way would he have received a term of that length. His lawyers knew it, the prosecutors knew it.


Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:01 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
BillMullins wrote:
Thirty five years was a scare tactic


Mission accomplished then. This was not the first time that office had pursued a computer hacker to the point of suicide.

That link also contains an explanation of how the court may have sentenced him to more than the prosecutors sought, defying any plea bargain. A truly screwed up system. It seems like a remake of And Justice for All.


Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:28 am
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Post Re: Anonymous
In a world where a "computer hacker" can imperil millions of people or make life indescribably miserable for individuals, customers of a particular firm or any group up to a nation, just how benign are their activities, and why should their threatened punishment be any less than that for direct physical threat or harm?

In another forum I compared Swartz's behavior with staging a bank robbery, guns threats and all, ending with tossing the bag of money back and saying, "Ha ha, it was all a joke." It wouldn't matter that he was a 22yo pulling a prank, or making a point, or even that the bank would be willing to forego pressing charges on its own... all issues parallel to what Swartz and JSTOR and MIT did. The feds would drag his butt off to prison because it's their designated job to protect both citizens and property.

You can make the argument that what Swartz did, on any level, was benign and/or a prank and/or foolish... but the feds, who are as sick of this mass "liberation" of intellectual property as anyone else, chose not to be humored and passive about it. Swartz should have seen that as a potential outcome.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:49 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
Computer hackers can cause actual harm to life and limb if they get into, say, hospital databases, medical equipment programming, power grid controls, or manufacturing plant operations. (Although the only instance I know of that actually happening is Stuxnet. But it surely won't be long.)

To hold the theft of intellectual property to the same standard devalues the precious nature of human health and life. Whether this case even constitutes theft of IP seems open to debate, but even if we stipulate it as being equivalent to the most heinous kind of IP theft, equating someone pirating a Disney DVD with armed assault is casuistry.

That's the problem with lumping all computer hackers under the same statutes and sentencing guidelines. It blurs the distinction between the joyrider and the terrorist, a chasm wider than any umbrella ought to span.

The USA imprisons a higher proportion of its population than every other country in the world. (St. Kitts and Nevis comes second. You have to get down to Russia in 8th place, at 4/5 of the USA rate, to get past the statistical blips.) Exercise for the reader: Is this because the USA inherently raises more felons per capita, or because the other countries let more felons roam free?


Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:50 pm
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Post Re: Anonymous
when you have enough laws everyone's guilty of something aren't they ? :lol:


Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:00 pm
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