January 12, 2014

One year ago to the day, we found out that Reddit co-founder and internet activist Aaron Swartz had taken his own life in the face of overly zealous prosecutors who told him he faced 50 years in prison for releasing free education documents on the internet.

The loss of Swartz is really incalcuable as we hurtle through the digital age without stopping to address issues like privacy, piracy, access and data collection. But Aaron, to his credit, saw those obstacles and tried to flag them for us to slow down and address.

A documentary honoring his life and work is currently in production (and you can be part of it via Kickstarter) and a preview shows how--much before Edward Snowden came to our awareness--he was aware of the inherent problem of NSA's data collection:

“It is shocking to think that the accountability is so lax that they don’t even have sort of basic statistics about how big the spying program is,” Swartz says of the NSA in the documentary clip. “If the answer is, ‘Oh, we’re spying on so many people we can’t possibly even count them,’ then that’s an awful lot of people.” He adds that the fact that the agency can’t put any number on the amount of people their surveillance reaches is “scary.”

The clip also covers Swartz’s involvement in the SOPA blackout protest, which occurred in January of 2012. A group of internet activists have deemed February 11th, 2014 “The Day We Fight Back”, which will feature online protest against mass surveillance in Swartz’s honor.

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