Join Us for 2020’s Virtual Aaron Swartz Day Hackathon

EFF is excited to participate this weekend in a virtual version of the annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon—a day dedicated to celebrating the continuing legacy of activist, programmer, and entrepreneur Aaron Swartz. 


Join EFF Senior Researcher Dave Maass and privacy advocate Madison Vialpando as they lead a virtual session on the Atlas of Surveillance project. Participants will gather news articles, press releases, and public records about law enforcement agencies using surveillance technologies such as social media monitoring, automated license plate readers, and body-worn cameras. EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow, Director of Strategy Danny O’Brien, and Senior Activist Elliot Harmon are also scheduled to speak about Aaron’s legacy and how his work lives on today.

Aaron Swartz was a brilliant champion of digital rights, dedicated to ensuring the Internet remained a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge. EFF was proud to call him a close friend and collaborator. His life was cut short in 2013, after he was charged under the notoriously draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for systematically downloading academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR.

Federal prosecutors stretch this law beyond its original purpose of stopping malicious computer break-ins, reserving the right to push for heavy penalties for any behavior they don’t like that happens to involve a computer. This was the case for Aaron, who was charged with eleven counts under the CFAA. Facing decades in prison, Aaron died by suicide at the age of 26. He would have turned 34 this year, on November 8.

In addition to EFF projects, the hackathon will focus on projects including SecureDrop, Open Library, and the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project. The full lineup of speakers includes Aaron Swartz Day co-founder Lisa Rein, SecureDrop lead Mickael E., researcher Mia Celine, Lucy Parsons Lab founder Freddy Martinez, and Brewster Kahle—co-founder of Aaron Swartz Day and the Internet Archive.

Aaron Swartz Day will start at 10 a.m. PT, and is free to everyone. Those interested participating can register on Eventbrite to have the streaming links emailed to you in the morning on Saturday, November 14. You can also follow along on Twitter at @AaronSwartzDay, or tune into the Aaron Swartz Day Facebook and YouTube channels.

Can’t make it this weekend? You can still carry on Aaron’s work. The organizers of Aaron Swartz Day are going to start hosting sessions to work on projects every Saturday, at 2 p.m. PT. Visit www.aaronswartzday.org for more information.

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Author: Hayley Tsukayama

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