When Aaron Swartz Spoofed His MAC Address, It Proved He Was A Criminal; When Apple Does It, It's Good For Everyone

from the only-the-second-one-is-true dept

Whenever we write about Aaron Swartz and the criminal prosecution against him, some of our (and Aaron's) critics scream that it was "obvious" that he knew he was up to no good, because he chose to spoof his MAC address on the machine he used to download JSTOR articles. Of course, as many people explained, spoofing a MAC address isn't some crazy nefarious thing to do, and often makes a lot of sense. In fact, Apple recently announced that iOS 8 will have randomized MAC addresses to better protect people's privacy. Simply speaking: Apple is making "MAC spoofing" standard. And, as the folks over at EFF are noting, this is a very good thing for your privacy.

As Cory Doctorow points out, this highlights the ridiculousness of MAC spoofing being used as evidence against Swartz, when now it's going to be a standard feature of iPhones and iPads (and, hopefully, other device makers will quickly follow suit).

This, of course, is one of the unfortunate results when you have law enforcement folks who simply don't understand much technology. People who actually understand both privacy and the ways you might approach problems you face on the internet, recognize that things like MAC spoofing are perfectly reasonable to do at times -- but such actions are twisted by law enforcement as being nefarious and dangerous because it makes it easier to "build a case" and because they don't understand how perfectly common such actions are.

Filed Under: aaron swartz, ios, mac address, privacy, spoofing

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  1. icon
    Beta (profile), 29 Jun 2014 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Right...

    There is so much wrong with your question I'm not sure where to start. According to Zip's description, first there is no need to reset the connection, it's just a good practice. Second, interruption can occur in any download, even if it isn't a large file. Third, it has nothing to do with how many files (large or small) there are. Fourth, Zip's motives for downloading these files have nothing at all to do with the problem of interruption or the solution that involves changing the MAC address. Fifth, yes indeed, Zip has "some reason" for using MAC address spoofing (a misnomer in my opinion), as Zip has explained to you at least twice, and maybe some reason for using public WiFi (as many people do or it wouldn't exist). Sixth, if you are moving the goalposts to "nothing possibly nefarious" then no evidence will convince you and no technology, medium, practice, or hobby can ever be entirely free of sinister overtones. Seventh, simple statements of fact and clear logic don't seem to make any impression on you, even with repetition (so I doubt that this comment will make any headway).

    P.S. Sorry to take so long replying-- I didn't check this thread for replies because I honestly didn't think you'd keep at it.

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