DemocracyNow! broadcast live Monday from the Freedom to Connect conference, a national gathering to promote Internet freedom and universal connectivity. It comes as the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has been reintroduced in the House, calling for a "cybersecurity" exception to existing privacy law that would give immunity to companies that hand over troves of confidential customer records and communications to the National Security Agency, FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Last year at this same conference, Aaron Swartz, the late cyberactivist, computer programmer, social justice activist and writer who committed suicide earlier this year, gave the keynote address, in which he described the battle to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.
Swartz took his own life at the age of 26 just weeks before he was to go on trial for using computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download millions of copyrighted academic articles from JSTOR, a subscription database of scholarly papers. JSTOR declined to press charges, but prosecutors moved the case forward. Aaron Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and a million dollars in fines for allegedly violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. After Aaron’s death, federal prosecutors dropped the charges against him.
Well, this year’s conference, which is "dedicated to the work Aaron still had left to do." DemocracyNow! is joined by Darcy Burner, delivering the "After Aaron" address this morning. She worked with him on several projects, including ProgressiveCongress.org, which she formerly directed, as well as the Progressive Congress Action Fund. She’s also one of the biggest tech geeks to run for Congress, having run for office three times from Washington state. She formerly worked for Microsoft.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re giving, Darcy, the "After Aaron" address today. What does that mean? And what are you saying?
DARCY BURNER: Well, you know, Aaron was a friend of mine. And I—