So in yesterday’s news we learned not only of much more hacking by and awareness of hacking on the part of News Corp (I doubt we’ve even scratched the surface–what I want to know is how widely dispersed these techniques are and where knowledge about them comes from, because they all impinge on national security issues that remain for me the most serious political issues related to information openness… but I digress), not only that small firms as well as large are active targets of hackers, and not only that “LulzSec’s goodbye letter,” issued yesterday, “included links to data from AOL, AT&T, online game Battlefield Heroes, the FBI, NATO, the Navy, and more.”

No, that’s not all. members of the nettime-l “mailing list for networked cultures, politics, and tactics,” have also been paying close attention to the world of hackers.

On Jul 19 one Mayo Fuster posted:

Hi! Aaron Swartz Internet activist (and friend) has been arrested for downloading too many journal articles from the Library. Please sign the petition of suport and help to spread the word, Mayo

NY Times article: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-charged-with-data-theft/

//// Aaron Swartz charged for downloading too many journal articles from the Library ////

Shocking news: Moments ago former Demand Progress Executive Director Aaron Swartz was indicted by the US government. As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading so many journal articles constitutes felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison. We disagree.

Will you click here to sign our petition of support for Aaron?

The next day, Patrice Riemens informed us, with great sensitivity:

On one hand there is the commercial corruption of big academic presses and academic journals publishers making obscene profits on basis of publicly financed information resources and then gouging the public, and every year more (*). The facts are well established and well known. And things are slowly – too slowly – changing.

Then there is what you could call moral corruption, and that is alas much more difficult to combat since it is happening from within academia itself. At the Commons Conference in Berlin, where I hold an agitated (my trademark 😉 elevator pitch for radical open access, I learned with some surprise from the (German) chair of our working group that he knew many academics who were quite attached to the ‘closed shop’ system of academic publishing. Because its financial wall ‘protected’ them against the great unwashed…

It’s a funny world. But not for Aaron. Do sign!
Cheers, p+3D!

I’ll sign. Why not? What joie de vivre and respect for other people’s views! What an open democracy!!! The guy is a super-principled crusader AGAINST criminal behavior on the part of a Mafia-like cartel, JSTOR! and wanted to give away practically everything I’ve done for free without asking me for the obvious cause of socialist revolution!

Then one or two people started to think for just a second. fortunately poster Glendon Jones quickly replied this morning, demonstrating that the case against the activist SWARTZ is totally misguided!

Pretty much every comment that you can find on Aaron Swartz’s arrest, both those that praise him for “sticking it to the man” and those that think he a criminal, is based on the assumption that he intended to illegally redistribute these articles, that he was trying to “liberate” information. Few have acknowledged the possibility that he was doing actual research that simply pushed JSTOR past its technical limits (so yes, he clearly violated section 2.2 f of the ToS) and that he had no intention of sharing the content he downloaded. After a half hour of very basic web research I believe that this is the case for two main reasons.

Except that in the same post he adds a PS: “After writing the above, I found this: http://gigaom.com/2011/07/21/pirate-bay-jstor/. While I agree with what Greg Maxwell did and says about it, it still doesn’t tell us anything about Aaron Swartz’s intentions.” In which the fact that Swartz had already attempted to distribute the documents is laid out clearly (as it seemed to be in earlier stories, but whatever.)

You know what it tells us about? That the default assumption of “internet political theorists” is that the way to openness and freedom is through massive theft of property and identity from the middling everyday people and workers who laughably think that their middle-class wages are just payment for the training, time, and skill they try to bring to their work.

Replace the word “hackers” with “thieves who use computers.” It’s accurate to 99%. Now re-read the last few years of internet politics discussion. Or should I say “politics,” because what they really are is bullshit. They have no idea what politics is, what computers are, or how computers and the world fit together. But they already know that the rest of us have nothing to contribute and “need to be educated.”


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