Smári McCarthy

Icelandic activist

Smári McCarthy
Smari McCarthy2012.jpg
Smári McCarthy in 2012
Member of the Althing
Assumed office
29 October 2016
ConstituencySouth Constituency
Personal details
Born (1984-02-07) 7 February 1984 (age 38)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political partyPirate Party (2013–present)
Alma materUniversity of Iceland
OccupationPolitician, innovator and information activist
Known for
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Smári McCarthy (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈsmauːrɪ mahˈkar̥ðɪ]; born 7 February 1984) is an Icelandic-Irish politician, innovator and information activist known for his work relating to direct democracy, transparency and privacy.

Early life

McCarthy was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, the son of Kolbrún Óskarsdóttir and Eugene McCarthy. His mother is Icelandic while his father is Irish. At age one, his family moved to England. At age 9, they returned to Iceland, settling in Vestmannaeyjar, a town and archipelago off the south coast.[1] He studied mathematics at the University of Iceland, but left to get involved with the digital fabrication movement.


McCarthy 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, McCarthy 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 McCarthy serving as executive director. In 2013, McCarthy he left that role, but he 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 he did not win a seat.

In the summer of 2013, McCarthy co-founded the free software project Mailpile along with Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson and Brennan Novak. The team successfully crowdfunded $163,192. McCarthy's role in the company is privacy and security. In 2014, McCarthy joined the editorial board of Scottish pro-independence newspaper Bella Caledonia.[15]

McCarthy left Mailpile to become the chief technologist of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, where he has helped design and code the Investigative Dashboard project.

In 2016, McCarthy was elected as a Pirate Party member of the Althing.[16]

Public speaking and activism

McCarthy 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 McCarthy was approached by agents of the FBI in Washington, D.C.[25]

In 2013, it was reported that in October 2011 Google was served with a search warrant for the content of McCarthy's emails over his work with WikiLeaks.[26]

McCarthy has made appearances in We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,[27] SVT's documentary Wikirebels and VPRO's de Wikileaks Code as well as numerous television interviews.

McCarthy is a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations and the creation of a more accountable international political system.[28] He is also a signatory of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's Parliamentary Pledge.[29]

Selected writing

  • Passing over Eisenhower[30]
  • 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[31]
  • 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[32]


  1. ^ (in 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 Archived 16 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ "IIS Windows Server".
  7. ^ Wasa2il on Github. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  8. ^ Mediando la Democracia Archived 19 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine, article by Smári McCarthy on
  9. ^ FSFÍ. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  10. ^ Cohen, Noam (21 February 2010). "A Vision of Iceland as a Haven for Journalists" – via
  11. ^ IMMI Staff Archived 31 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Grapevine: MP To Form Pirate Party Archived 31 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  13. ^ Grapevine: You Have it All Wrong Archived 23 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine. 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. ^ correspondent, Jon Henley European affairs (30 October 2016). "Iceland elections leave ruling centre-right party in driving seat" – via
  17. ^ Smari McCarty | SHARE Foundation. Retrieved on 4 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Personal Web Page – Travel and Events". Archived from the original on 4 August 2012.
  19. ^ Smári at Re:Publica. (16 May 2011). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  20. ^ mmcetera (3 April 2012). "SKUP 2012 WikiLeaks Panel with Kristinn Hrafnsson, Annie Machon, Smári McCarthy" – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  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. ^ "Secret warrant forced Google to hand over WikiLeaks Volunteer's Data to Feds". The Hacker News. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  27. ^ Smári McCarthy at IMDb
  28. ^ "Statements". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  29. ^ ICAN Parliamentary Pledge, retrieved 19 December 2017
  30. ^ Passing over Eisenhower. (18 July 2013). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  31. ^ Despatches from the Invisible Revolution. (23 February 2012). Retrieved on 2016-02-04.
  32. ^ Islands of resilience

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Smári McCarthy.
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  • Fellowship of Free Software Foundation of Europe interview
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