RSS and Reddit Co-Founder Aaron Swartz tragically took his own life last week, leaving behind a legacy as an internet visionary and protector of our basic online rights. Before his death, Swartz delivered a passionate speech in which he attacked the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
SOPA was designed to stop internet pirates from stealing copyrighted information; however, Swartz and most internet advocates and users agreed that the bill would have disastrous consequences for internet users.
In response to SOPA, the young internet phenom who helped develop the RSS protocol at just 14-years-old delivered the keynote address at the 2012 F2C: Freedom to Connect conference.
During his speech Swartz told a captivated audience:
“The Internet really is out of control. But if we forget that, if we let Hollywood rewrite the story so it was just big company Google who stopped the bill, if we let them persuade us we didn’t actually make a difference, if we start seeing it as someone else’s responsibility to do this work, and it’s just our job to go home and curl up on the couch, pop some popcorn and watch Transformers, well then next time, they might just win. Let’s not let that happen.”
Swartz was so passionate about defeating SOPA that he founded Demand Progress, an advocacy group focused on Internet legislation.
Here is the Aaron Swartz video:
Following Swartz’s death, Demand Progress released the following statement:
“We will be in touch with our members and the general public in the near future to offer suggestions about ways to move forward. Tragically, we’ll have to continue to stifle the visceral impulse to run our half-formed ideas by Aaron, to help us make them better ones.”