The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: June 2013

Get to know the Swarm

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Screw Democracy. We’re On a Mission From God!” How can you resist a title like that? Welcome to chapter 6 of Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge, grand poobah of the Pirate movement world wide. Of course, this book is available for free on line. (Pirates share!) I read the first 5 chapters on my smart phone. Chapter 6 will be available (along with the first 5 chapters) at July 1st.  But if you prefer a copy made of trees, you can buy yourself one of those, too, and perhaps give it to one of your technophobic friends. The book will be coming out August 1st. The understanding of the way the Swarm works may be what drives your paranoid pals to join in to social media at last. And screw the NSA and their band of peeping toms, if you want to get amazing things done with few people and nearly zero money, social media is the way to go. Yesterday I as I moderated a panel on how to organize for political ends at PirateCon 2013, I marveled at how much what Evan Greer and Gregg Housh and Veronique Vermorel had to say that was reinforced by what I read in Falkvinge’s work. He shares his work on line because he understands and respects that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, we all discover good uses for new inventions at about the same pace, we all rework the ideas of those who came before us at about the same time. Falkvinge talks about a Swarm, Gregg Housh talks about a “Do-ocracy”, but both names describe the process of just *letting* people do what they can, (with some direction), not about telling people what they *must* do. And directing people with your passion and your vision … Read more

published under Censorship, Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech, Main Topic, Organizing, Privacy | Comments Off on Get to know the Swarm

PirateCon is Tomorrow!

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PirateCon 2013 is this Saturday. We have a great lineup with talks on open government, government surveillance and crowdfunding.  We hope you can make it. It starts at 10am on the 29th and will be at the

published under Fun and Games, Out And About | Comments Off on PirateCon is Tomorrow!

Cameron D’Ambrosio Is Finally Free

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Yesterday, the Essex County District Attorney dropped all charges against Cameron D’Ambrosio.  We are extremely happy that he is finally free. A big thanks to everyone who helped to secure his freedom, especially First Officer Lucia and fellow Pirate Garret for leading the efforts to help Cameron and his family. There is a benefit concert for Cameron and his family on July 6th at The Crown in Lowell.  It starts at 8pm.

published under Freedom of Speech | Comments Off on Cameron D’Ambrosio Is Finally Free

Why the US needs a Party of Open

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In December 2005, the New York Times published an eye-opening story: the National Security Agency (NSA) was given authorization to tap into the infrastructure of major phone companies, and eavesdrop on our phone calls. These were not your traditional telephone taps, involving probable cause, a judge, and a warrant; these were secret orders, authorized by a FISA court. The phone companies complied; for example, Verizon allowed the NSA to set up shop in its San Francisco office, and tap directly into its network routers. Since then, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) pursued two lawsuits related to the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping: Jewel vs. NSA and Hepting vs. AT & T. Hepting vs AT & T was dismissed in 2009 while Jewel vs. NSA is an ongoing case in the San Francisco District Courts. One of the EFF’s obstacles in Jewel has been the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege; the government sought to have the case dismissed, claiming that the wiretaps were part of a program to combat terrorism. In other words, the government cried “national security”. On June 5th 2013, we got a glimpse into these secret programs. With the aid of whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Guardian broke a story about the NSA’s dragnet collection of Verizon call records, evidenced by a top secret FISA court order. On June 6th 2013, the Guardian broke news of another NSA program: PRISM. PRISM is another surveillance effort, targeting email, and data from web sites and social networks. Several politicians have come to the defense of these programs. For example, Senator Diane Feinstein said that the Verizon FISA order had been in place for seven years, and the latest version was nothing more than a routine renewal. President Obama has called the program “transparent”, and only a “modest encroachment on privacy”. As … Read more

published under Privacy, Secrecy, Transparency | Comments Off on Why the US needs a Party of Open

Support the #MassWiretap Campaign!

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At our June 16th General Meeting, we signed on to #MassWiretap campaign: We, the undersigned, call on the Massachusetts legislature to reject proposals to expand government wiretap powers. Listening in on phone calls and electronic communication poses “grave dangers to the privacy of all citizens of the commonwealth,” in the words of our existing law. However, pending legislation would ignore that wise warning. It would permit wiretapping not just in connection with organized crime, or even for serious, violent crimes, but for a wide variety of offenses down to simple drug possession and other less serious offenses. Crime has fallen substantially, but electronic surveillance is on the rise. Now is not the time to hand our government broader powers to eavesdrop on us. We urge you to oppose S.654 / H.3261, An Act Updating the Wire Interception Law. We urge you to add your name to the petition and tell your friends and family to do so as well.  The privacy you save may be your own or those you love. A big thanks to the Campaign for Digital Fourth Amendment Rights, ACLU of Massachusetts, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Fight for the Future for leading this campaign.

published under Main Topic, Privacy | 1 Comment

Pirates Donate Computer to Cammy Dee

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When First Officer Lucia found out from Cam’s father and sister that the Methuen police took the D’Ambrosio’s  *only* computer as evidence in Cameron D’Ambrosio’s charge of Communicating a Terrorist Threat, she sprang into action. Gathering up one of her old, but workable computers, she enlisted the help of Captain James and Quartermaster Steve in making the computer ship shape. After installing a new hard disk, they loaded a copy of the free Linux Mint OS, as well as Tor and other useful open source software. Last Saturday, Lucia and Steve dropped it off and got it up on the Internet. We are proud of the part they played in helping Cameron and his family. And we are thrilled to welcome Cam back to Facebook! Keep posting, keep sharing. It is your RIGHT! Cameron’s Probable Cause hearing is still scheduled for June 27th and he is still not quite out of the woods. He and his family need people to show up at that hearing and show support. Also, there is a benefit concert for Cameron and his family on July 6th at The Crown in Lowell.  It starts at 8pm.

published under Freedom of Speech, Main Topic | Comments Off on Pirates Donate Computer to Cammy Dee

NSA’s Turnkey Tyranny

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The recent revelations by journalist Glenn Greenwald and whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have shed a welcome light on the mass surveillance program of Americans and people in other countries by the National Security Agency (NSA) and its private contractors. What they revealed was long suspected, and in some cases known, but no less a threat to our right to privacy and control over our own government: the logging of who you call, when you call, from where you call and how long you talk provides the NSA with detailed knowledge of who you know, where you have been and what your behaviors are; the PRISM program which allows the NSA direct access to, without the need to obtain a warrant, your emails, chats, videos, photos, Voice over IP (VoIP), stored data, access records and other data for Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Skype, YouTube, Apple and other service providers; Boundless Informant, the NSA’s datamining tool to track the amount of surveillance data they have obtained for each country, including the US, which the NSA is legally excluded from spying on and which NSA director General Keith Alexander told Senators they could not provide in October, 2012; that large portions of the national security state are run by private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, the employer of Snowden. Snowden sums up how these tools can harm individuals by destroying our right to privacy: Because even if you are not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded and the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude. It’s getting to the point that you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall into suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time … Read more

published under Main Topic, Privacy | 1 Comment

Boston Pride A Success

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A big thanks to Lucia, Joe, Steve, Kendra, Sevan, Véronique and Kate for making our 2nd Boston Pride Parade a hit. While it rained earlier, the day was beautiful day. Our NSA vs Pirate skit needs some work, but we had fun doing it. We handed out about 2200 party or PirateCon 2013 fliers. We were proud to have French Pirate and parliamentary candidate Véronique Vermorel marching with us. Sevan and I put up some of the pictures we took.

published under Civil Liberties, Main Topic, Out And About | Comments Off on Boston Pride A Success

Ridicule the NSA this Saturday!

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We need you to help send a message on Saturday that we will not tolerate the NSA collecting the phone records of everyone in the US on a daily basis. We will ridicule the NSA during the Boston LBGT Pride Parade and before nearly a million people. Will you join us? The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the blanket order to give the government unlimited authority to obtain such phone communications data as the cell phone tower location of each person on a call, the phone numbers on both ends of a call, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered, thankfully. The government was allowed to collect this data on ALL Verizon customers for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. We doubt this data collection is limited to Verizon customers, and we know they have been doing it for seven years! Indeed, as was revealed late yesterday, the NSA is collecting data from Apple, Facebook, Google and other on-line services. We know there is even more data they can collect without a warrant. In Can You Hear Us Now? Colonial-Style General Warrants Return To America, Alex Marthews highlights how far we have come from the rights enshrined in our constitution. He notes that the text of the Fourth Amendment reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. And goes on to describe what happened to the colonialists when these rights did not exist: Why was this important to the … Read more

published under Out And About, Privacy | Comments Off on Ridicule the NSA this Saturday!

Cammy Dee Freed!

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Yesterday, an Essex County Grand Jury refused to indict Cameron D’Ambrosio for the charge of Communicating a Terrorist Threat. He was released and we hear he is with his family. The Boston Herald reported that: “Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball-Monihan said there are no plans to attempt to bring lesser charges in district court. She said prosecutors will file a motion ending prosecution against D’Ambrosio at a future date.” As far as we know, his Probable Cause hearing is still scheduled for June 27th. Cameron is still not quite out of the woods, but the show of support at his Probable Cause hearing on Monday and the persistance of people like Garret Kirkland, the folks at Center for Rights, and everyone who helped out won Cameron his freedom. There will always be more to do, but today we can savor a victory.

published under Freedom of Speech, Main Topic | Comments Off on Cammy Dee Freed!
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