Aaron Swartz Remembered/The Fight Against Mass Surveillance

internet's own boy The documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” makes its premiere tonight at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Appropriately enough, the IMDb entry was written by Anonymous.

The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare.

It was just over a year ago that Aaron took his own life, and friends, family, and fellow activists feel the best way to honor his memory is to continue the fight. Demand Progress, co-founded by Aaron with Dave Segal,* is joining forces with other organizations and advocacy groups for a day of mass protest on February 11th: The Day We Fight Back.

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.

In his speech on Friday, President Obama announced that he’s giving the intelligence community until March 28th to come up with a new procedure for storing all of our metadata — saying he doesn’t think it should continue to be housed by the NSA or by individual carriers — and he’s looking for input from Congress. The President is trying to normalize the bulk collection of our metadata — the very thing that was so foreign to us just 8 months ago that it sparked international outrage.

The issue isn’t where to store this data, but should the government be collecting this data at all. End mass surveillance now.

*Segal, a former Rhode Island legislator and co-creator of the Providence Daily Dose, is currently executive director of Demand Progress.

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