Janine Jackson: While an ethics fellow at Harvard, young programmer and activist Aaron Swartz downloaded articles en masse from the academic database JSTOR, triggering the aggressive pursuit of MIT’s IT department, and eventually what’s been described as a grand jury runaway train gone off the rails. Threatened with decades in prison and a seven-figure fine because, in the words of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, “stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar,” Swartz took his own life in 2013. After his death, it was revealed that he, in fact, had authorized access to JSTOR from MIT.
The persecution of Aaron Swartz was a sign of the animus with which some system-representing actors will go after relatively powerless individuals they choose to make examples of. It’s also been taken up as a call to advance the demand to liberate data, for regular citizens to be able to get the information they need to confront power, and to have a say in decisions affecting them.
Joining us now to talk about that work is Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of the group Oakland Privacy. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Tracy Rosenberg.
Renters in Oakland’s apartment buildings now have more control over their choice of internet service provider, a choice that San Francisco renters have had since 2016 and one that the Federal Communications Commission is currently addressing.
The Internet Choice Ordinance was unanimously approved by the Oakland City Council in October and went into effect for tenants in January. It broadens ISP options for renters in buildings with four or more residences by prohibiting landlords from restricting tenants to a single provider.
The Berkeley Police Accountability Board, or PAB, discussed a successful perpetrator negotiation on Telegraph Avenue and delayed action for a proposal to expand public safety surveillance camera use in Berkeley at its regular meeting Wednesday.
During the first public comment session, Berkeley resident Kitt Saginor raised concerns about the Berkeley Police Department’s COVID-19 response in light of Berkeley’s loosening mask policies. Saginor urged officers to continue masking within the department and community after photos on social media allegedly showed maskless officers in Target during the omicron surge.
Oakland Privacy representative Tracy Rosenberg advocated against the Automated License Plate Readers policy, which uses cameras to capture vehicle license plates. Expansion of the policy would allow the use of scanning technology beyond parking enforcement, the initial purpose portrayed by City Council.
“This is essentially a breaking of a contract that was made between the City Council and the residents in Berkeley in terms of why this equipment was brought and how it was going to be used,” Rosenberg said during the meeting.
Rosenberg discouraged the board from adding uses to law enforcement equipment due to difficulties in data extraction.
Ashkan Soltani, the head of California’s new online privacy regulator, needed help launching the first agency of its kind in the United States. So he called the state’s Horse Racing Board.
Soltani asked Scott Chaney, executive director of the racing board, which oversees roughly 10 racetracks, about the ins and outs of running a small agency in California’s sprawling state government. They discussed how to handle remote work and hiring in the pandemic. Chaney also offered advice for navigating the public sector.
Soltani is “literally inventing a state department,” Chaney said. “He’s almost inventing it from the ground up.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming annual conference of the Alliance for Community Media West, Mickey speaks with two long-time activists in the community-media movement- Sue Buske and Tracy Rosenberg; they discuss the future of public-access cable channels, associated public/local media, and the role community media centers can play centering marginalized voices in local news deserts, especially in hyper-artisan times. The ACM West’s 2022 conference is taking place in San Jose, CA from March 30 through April 1. In the second half of the show, we learn about the iconic, pathbreaking civil-rights activist, lawyer, clergy, and feminist, Pauli Murray (1910-1985), from Simki Kuznick, author of a newly-published Murray biography. That which Murray fought for foreshadowed and impacted many of the civil rights campaigns that continue to this day. Notes: Tracy Rosenberg is Executive Director of Media Alliance, a San-Francisco-based advocacy organization involved in a wide array of campaigns, including net neutrality, personal privacy, and many other issues. Sue Buske is Vice-Chair of ACM West, and heads a consulting firm (the Buske Group) assisting local governments and nonprofit organizations on cable-TV matters. The California Assembly bills discussed on the show are AB2635 and AB2748. Simki Kuznick is the author of “Pauli Murray’s Revolutionary Life” (from Rootstock Publishing). While living in California, she helped found the group Interracial Pride. Now based in the Washington, DC area, she is a writer and editor, holds an MFA in Creative Writing.
Washington D.C. (September 15, 2022) – Today Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (NY-16) introduced the Resolution Recognizing the Human Rights to Utilities, which would recognize access to water, sanitation, electricity, heating, cooling, public transit, and broadband communications as basic human rights and public services that must be accessible, safe, acceptable, sufficient, affordable, justly sourced and sustainable, climate resilient, and reliable for every person.
“We fully support this resolution and urge Congress to pass it,” said Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance. “All residents of the United States of America should be able to rely on their political leader’s commitment to making sure they have the necessities of life; including water, heat, electricity and connectivity so they can live a safe, engaged and free existence. Keeping utility services affordable, public and accessible to all must be a priority and we cannot allow private companies to sacrifice human rights in the interest of profit.”
SAN FRANCISCO — When Chirag Bhakta saw a headline recently that said tech workers were fleeing San Francisco, he had a quick reaction: “Good riddance.”
Bhakta, a San Francisco native and tenant organizer for affordable housing nonprofit Mission Housing, is well-versed in the seismic impact that the growth of the tech industry has had on the city. As software companies expanded over the past decade, they drew thousands of well-off newcomers who bid up rents and remade the city’s economy and culture.
He said the sudden departure of many tech workers and executives — often to less expensive, rural areas where they can telecommute during the coronavirus pandemic — reveals that their relationship with San Francisco was “transactional” all along.