Smári McCarthy

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This is an Icelandic name. The last name is a family name, but this person is referred to by the given name Smári.
Smári McCarthy
Smari McCarthy2012.jpg
Smári McCarthy in 2012
Born (1984-02-07) February 7, 1984 (age 33)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Alma mater University of Iceland
Occupation Innovator and information activist
Known for

Smári McCarthy (born 7 February 1984) is an Icelandic/Irish politician, innovator and information activist. He is known for his work relating to direct democracy, transparency, and privacy.

Early life[edit]

Smári was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, the son of Kolbrún Óskarsdóttir and Eugene McCarthy. At age one his family moved to England. At age 9, the family returned to Iceland, settling in Vestmannaeyjar, a town and archipelago off the south coast.[1] He studied mathematics at the University of Iceland , but quit after two years[citation needed] to get involved with the digital fabrication movement. A fellow student, Sigrún Helga Lund, now a teacher at the University of Iceland, accused Smári of never having finished his first semester although he studied at the University for 2 years.


Smári got involved in the digital fabrication movement in 2007, and was involved in the creation of the first Icelandic fab lab in Vestmannaeyjar.[2] He has worked with Fab Labs elsewhere, including Jalalabad, Afghanistan.[3]

The same year, Smári proposed the Shadow Parliament Project,[4][5] a project intending to "crowdsource democracy". In an essay outlining the project, he described what is now known as Liquid Democracy. The project launched Skuggaþing (Icelandic for "shadow parliament") in early 2010.[6] In 2012 he started the wasa2il software project[7] in order to address shortcomings with existing implementations of Liquid Democracy.[8]

In 2008 he co-founded of the Icelandic Digital Freedom Society (FSFÍ),[9] a free software, privacy and digital rights organization in Iceland.

In 2009 he organized the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative along with various other media freedom and free speech activists, including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Julian Assange and Rop Gonggrijp.[10] In 2011 the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) was formed around the initiative, with Smári serving as executive director. In 2013 he left that role, but still serves as a board member of IMMI.[11]

In 2012, he co-founded the Icelandic Pirate Party,[12][13] along with Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, and various others. He stood as their lead candidate in Iceland's South Constituency in the 2013 parliamentary elections,[14] but did not win a seat.

In the summer of 2013, Smári co-founded the free software project Mailpile along with Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson and Brennan Novak. The team successfully crowdfunded $163,192. Smári's role in the company is privacy and security.

In 2014, Smári joined the editorial board of Scottish pro-independence newspaper Bella Caledonia.[15]

He is currently the chief technologist of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project where he has helped design and code the Investigative Dashboard project.

In 2016, Smári was elected as a Pirate Party (Iceland) member of the Althing.[16]

Public speaking and activism[edit]

Smári has spoken at numerous conferences, such as Oekonux, FSCONS, Internet at Liberty and SHARE,[17] as well as having lectured at various universities and summer schools.[18] Common themes include direct or electronic democracy, press freedoms,[19][20] a critique of industrialization as a centralizing force,[21][22] and the culture of the Internet. More recently he has spoken about privacy in the context of state surveillance.[23][24]

In 2012, WikiLeaks has alleged that Smári was approached by agents of the FBI in Washington, D.C..[25]

Smári has made appearances in We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,[26] SVT's documentary Wikirebels and VPRO's de Wikileaks Code, as well as numerous television interviews.

Selected writing[edit]

  • Passing over Eisenhower[27]
  • Where States Go To Die: Military Artifacts, International Espionage And The End Of Liberal Democracy[24]
  • Cloud Computing: Centralization and Data Sovereignty, with Primavera de Filippi
  • Mediating Democracy, in Redvolution: El poder del ciudadano conectado.
  • Bergeron's Children, in Despatches from the Invisible Revolution, edited by Keith Kahn-Harris and Dougald Hine.[28]
  • Cloud Computing: Legal Issues in Centralized Architectures, with Primavera de Filippi, in Net Neutrality and other challenges for the future of the Internet
  • The Future of Information Freedom, in The Future we Deserve, edited by Vinay Gupta
  • The End of (artificial) Scarcity, in Free Beer, edited by Stian Rødven Eide
  • Islands of Resilience, with Eleanor Saitta[29]


  1. ^ (Icelandic) Smári McCarthy, on Heimaslóð. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  2. ^ Fab Lab Vestmannaeyjar. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  3. ^ Fab Lab Jalalabad Annual Report.
  4. ^ "The Social Web and Civil Life". Searcher Magazine, 17.3, March 2009. (6 November 2007). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  5. ^ The Shadow Parliament Project (blog entry) Archived 2 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Skuggaþing
  7. ^ Wasa2il on Github. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  8. ^ Mediando la Democracia, article by Smári McCarthy on
  9. ^ FSFÍ. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  10. ^ New York Times: A Vision of Iceland as a Haven for Journalists
  11. ^ IMMI Staff Archived 31 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Grapevine: MP To Form Pirate Party. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  13. ^ Grapevine: You Have it All Wrong. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  14. ^ Píratakafteinar í suðurkjördæmi Archived 26 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Bella Caledonia á Twitter. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Smari McCarty | SHARE Foundation. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  18. ^ Personal Web Page – Travel and Events
  19. ^ Smári at Re:Publica. (16 May 2011). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  20. ^ Smári at SKUB with Kristinn Hrafnsson and Annie Machon
  21. ^ March, Friday. (23 March 2012) Smári at Me Craft/You Industry Symposium. Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  22. ^ Smári at GoOpen. (7 August 2011). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  23. ^ Engineering Our Way Out of Fascism. (28 May 2014). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  24. ^ a b Where States Go To Die. (12 October 2013). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  25. ^ Sewell, Anne. (5 June 2012) Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — guests targeted by the FBI. Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  26. ^ Smári McCarthy at the Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ Passing over Eisenhower. (18 July 2013). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  28. ^ Despatches from the Invisible Revolution. (23 February 2012). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  29. ^ Islands of resilience[dead link]

External links[edit]