A little over a year ago, open Internet activist Aaron Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment. Swartz had been facing 35 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for downloading academic journals from an MIT computer, and he took his life two days after a prosecutor turned down a proposed plea deal that would have kept him out of prison.
At his funeral, Robert Swartz, Aaron’s father, said his son “was killed by the government.” Harvard legal scholar Lawrence Lessig, a friend of Swartz, argued that prosecutors had bullied the young activist. “The question this government needs to answer,” he wrote, “is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a ‘felon.’ For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept.”
In honor of Swartz’s memory, a coalition of activist groups and web publications are mobilizing a day of online action against NSA surveillance. Dubbed “The Day We Fight Back,” the actions are also a celebration of the popular victory against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) two years ago — a fight in which Swartz played a key role.
Here’s how you can get involved, according to the organizers of today’s actions:
WHO: Access, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, The Other 98%, BoingBoing, Mozilla, Reddit, ThoughtWorks — and many more to come
WHAT: Day of Action in Opposition to Mass Spying, Honoring Aaron Swartz and SOPA Blackout Anniversary
WHEN: February 11, 2014
HOW INTERNET USERS CAN HELP:
- Visit TheDayWeFightBack.org
- Sign up to indicate that you’ll participate and receive updates.
- Sign up to install widgets on websites encouraging its visitors to fight back against surveillance. (These are being finalized in coming days.)
- Use the social media tools on the site to announce your participation.
- Develop memes, tools, websites, and do whatever else you can to participate — and encourage others to do the same.