February 11 is The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance
DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,
In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. A year ago this month one of that movement’s leaders, Aaron Swartz, tragically passed away.
Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.
If Aaron were alive, he’d be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.
Now, on the anniversary of Aaron’s passing, and in celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA that he helped make possible, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.
One year ago this month, the young Internet freedom activist and groundbreaking programmer Aaron Swartz took his own life. Swartz died shortly before he was set to go to trial for downloading millions of academic articles from servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the belief that the articles should be freely available online. At the time he committed suicide, Swartz was facing 35 years in prison, a penalty supporters called excessively harsh. Today we spend the hour looking at the new documentary, “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.” We play excerpts of the film and speak with Swartz’s father Robert, his brother Noah, his lawyer Elliot Peters, and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger.
Aaron Swartz: The Life We Lost and the Day We Fight Back
Amy Goodman, Truthdig
A year after Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz’s suicide at the age of 26, a film about this remarkable young man has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, titled “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,” directed by Brian Knappenberger, follows the sadly short arc of Aaron’s life. He committed suicide while under the crushing weight of unbending, zealous federal prosecutors, who had Aaron snatched off the street near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accusing him of computer crimes.
At the age of 14, Aaron helped develop RSS, “Really Simple Syndication,” which changed how people get online content. He co-founded one of the Internet’s most popular websites, Reddit. In the year before his death, he helped defeat a notorious bill before Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would have granted corporations sweeping powers of censorship over the Internet. Now, another fight for the freedom of the Internet has begun. This one will have to be waged without Aaron.
A coalition of Internet activists, technologists and policy experts are joining together on Feb. 11 for “The Day We Fight Back.” As they say on their website, reflecting on the victory against SOPA, “Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance. If Aaron were alive, he’d be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.” Before Edward Snowden made “NSA” and “mass surveillance” household terms, Aaron was speaking out against the National Security Agency’s bulk collection programs. His brother, Noah Swartz, told me, “I think Aaron’s message that we can all take with us is that … we can see the change we want to see in the world by participating, rather than feeling helpless and useless.”