Podcast: Petard, Part 03

Here's the third part of my reading (MP3) of Petard (part one, part two), a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem.

MP3 Read the rest

Nova Scotia abandons its attempt to destroy a teenager who stumbled on a wide-open directory of sensitive information

Last month, an unnamed 19-year-old Nova Scotian grew frustrated with the lack of a search interface for the province's public repository of responses to public records requests; he wanted to research the province's dispute with its public school teachers and didn't fancy manually clicking on thousands of links to documents to find the relevant ones, so he wrote a single line of code that downloaded all the public documents to his computer, from which he could search them with ease. Read the rest

Announcing "Petard," a new science fiction story reading on my podcast

Here's the first part of my reading (MP3) of Petard, a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem. Read the rest

Nova Scotia filled its public Freedom of Information Archive with citizens' private data, then arrested the teen who discovered it

A 19 year old in Nova Scotia wanted to learn more about the provincial teachers' dispute, so he filed some Freedom of Information requests; he wasn't satisfied with the response so he decided to dig through other documents the province had released under open records laws to look for more, but couldn't find a search tool that was adequate to the job. Read the rest

Cloudflare terminate Sci-Hub domains, declining to challenge court order

Cloudflare has terminated service to Sci-Hub, the site that provides paywall-free access to virtually all scholarly work, citing Aaron Swartz as inspiration -- Cloudflare previously serviced the sci-hub.la, sci-hub.tv, and sci-hub.tw domains, but in response to an injunction obtained by the American Chemical Society, they will no longer provide that service. Read the rest

65 out of the top 100 most-cited scientific papers are behind a paywall, with a weighted average cost of $32.33/each

Noting that "the web was built specifically to share research papers amongst scientists," Josh Nicholson and Alberto Pepe report on the dismal state of the web for accessing the most-cited scientific papers across the literature -- 65 of the top 100 most-cited papers being behind paywalls. Read the rest

Aaron Swartz Day is today, and for the first time, there's a webcast

Today is the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon Weekend, and for the first time, the speakers will be webcast, starting at 1PM Pacific: Read the rest

New tool helps authors claim their copyrights back from publishers (even "perpetual assignments")

Under US copyright law, creators who have signed away their copyrights for the "full duration of copyright" can still get their rights back from publishers under something called the "Termination of Transfer," which is a hellishly complex and technical copyright provision that is almost never used, since it requires that creators wait decades and then successfully navigate all that complexity (even knowing how many years you have to wait is complicated!). Read the rest

Every judicial decision has been liberated from the US court system's paywall

US court records are not copyrighted, but the US court system operates a paywall called "PACER" that is supposed to recoup the costs of serving text files on the internet; charging $0.10/page for access to the public domain, and illegally profiting to the tune of $80,000,000/year. Read the rest

Fundraising for Diego Gómez, grad student who faced criminal charges for sharing a scientific paper

Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "A few weeks ago Diego Gómez, the former Colombian student who's been prosecuted for sharing a research paper online, was acquitted of criminal charges. Read the rest

Theresa May wants to ban crypto: here's what that would cost, and here's why it won't work anyway

Aaron Swartz once said, "It's no longer OK not to understand how the Internet works."

Remembering the SOPA blackout, five years later

Five years ago, we won an unprecedented victory: spurred on by blackouts of more than 50,000 sites, more than 8 million Americans called Congress to object to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a brutal internet censorship bill that would have been a stake through the heart of the open net. SOPA, which had been tipped to sail through Congress without any fuss, died an unprecedented death. It set a precedent. Read the rest

Carmen Ortiz, the prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz, is retiring

Reed writes, "Carmen Ortiz, the US Federal Attorney for the state of Massachusetts who was responsible for the death of EFF member Aaron Swartz, recently announced her retirement. For those who don't recall the case, Swartz committed suicide following an unlawful and vindictive prosecution, undertaken only to enhance Ortiz's career as being 'tough on white collar crime' and 'lawless hackers'. Read the rest

At long last, America's racist, crazy tough-on-crime prosecutors are losing elections

Historically, being an elected prosecutor was a sweet gig: operating with "unchecked power and no transparency," you generally got to run unopposed for re-election, and on the rare instances in which someone did dare to run against the incumbent, the incumbent usually won. Read the rest

Nightwork: the extraordinary, exuberant history of rulebreaking at MIT

MIT has a complicated relationship with disobedience. On the one hand, the university has spent more than a century cultivating and celebrating a "hacker culture" that involves huge, ambitious, thoughtful and delightful pranks undertaken with the tacit approval of the university. On the other hand -- well, on the other hand: Star Simpson, Bunnie Huang, and Aaron Swartz. In Nightwork, first published in 2003 and updated in 2011, MIT Historian T. F. Peterson explores this contradictory relationship and celebrates the very best, while suggesting a path for getting rid of the very worst.

ACLU files a lawsuit to repeal the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, used to prosecute Aaron Swartz

The ACLU is suing to repeal parts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1980s-vintage hacking law that makes it a felony to "exceed authorization" on a remote computer, and which companies and the US government have used to prosecute researchers who violated websites' terms of service. Read the rest

Vice now has a Securedrop for anonymous whistleblower docs

Securedrop is a robust, secure, anonymous system for whistleblowers to convey documents to news organizations, created by Aaron Swartz and taken up by the Freedom of the Press Foundation after his death. Read the rest

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