Wednesday, November 6
Whether you believe it or not, we’re embroiled in a war for digital privacy and human rights. Many heroes have fallen in battles against corruption, but the tide is beginning to turn. The balance of power is shifting from small elitest government groups and into the hands of the entire populace. If you need a clue, here are some heroes from the Digital Human Rights Movement…
When the United States government wanted to peak at Edward Snowden’s email, they weren’t able to, as Snowden was smart enough to use one of the only secure email services around: Lavabit. The government wasn’t satisfied with this and ordered Lavabit founder Ladar Levison to turn over his company’s encryption keys. Rather than submit to the demands, Levison lawyered up and shut down his service, leaving millions of users upset.
Levison then took his battle against the government to the media, where the internet immediately embraced the embattled former-CEO. Thanks to his stand, mainstream society is becoming aware of the privacy limitations of our current messaging systems. Now we know no email is secure…
The Transparent Hacker…
When Anonymous first came into public consciousness, it was from hacking and dumping sensitive material from government (and corporate) contractor Stratfor. Jeremy Hammond (founder of HackThisSite.org) was one of the hackers responsible for obtaining the documents and leaking them to Wikileaks. Now, Preet Bharara, the US Attorney known for going after Wall Street (which has clearly worked out well).
Hammond is now facing a life prison sentence for his nonviolent activism, but, as he’s a nice guy with good intentions, the internet supports him with a website set up for his legal fund. Jeremy Hammond is everything Hector Monsegur wishes he was.
The Leak “Terrorist”…
Glenn Greenwald has always been interested in politics and national security, but he catapulted into the public spotlight by becoming the official media source for Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. Since then, Greenwald has been embroiled in international scrutiny, as the US and UK attempt to silence him as a terrorist while every other country in the world looks for answers.
Luckily for Greenwald, he resides safely in Brazil, but both he and his partner (David Miranda) have been accosted by authorities for their investigations. With US and UK government officials trying everything they can to tarnish his reputation, time will tell whether or not the new large-scale media project Greenwald is rumored to be working on will pay off.
The Link “Terrorist”…
Barrett Brown is a prolific writer whose work has been featured in The Guardian, Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, and Business Week. Well…that’s who he was until he posted a couple of YouTube videos and a link that the government didn’t like. Now, instead of serving as the mouthpiece for Anonymous, Brown is sitting in a prison in Dallas, TX, unfairly facing 100 years.
The government doesn’t like Barrett Brown, but he was nothing more than a journalist who published information that was presented to him. He got involved in conversations and actively participated in Anonymous, but his participation made him more of a gonzo journalist than a terrorist threat. Barrett Brown set the standard for standing up for digital privacy, inspiring Glenn Greenwald and others to join the digital revolution.
Australian Julian Assange is a hacker, and more than just a computer one. He has a natural curiosity for everything and wants all information to be free. This is how he got involved with Wikileaks, which, in 2010, catapulted to the public spotlight for releasing leaked U.S. diplomatic and military cables.
Soon after he started speaking in public, the U.S. government went after him. Whereas Chelsea Manning (the Army whistleblower who leaked the documents) was in custody of the U.S. military, Assange, as a non-U.S. citizen used diplomatic immunity to save his skin as he hid in the Ecuadorian embassy.
With his health deteriorating in his makeshift captivity, Assange has cut ties with many of his original supporters, though still has a strong following on the Interwebz. He’s playing a game of thrones nobody else has proven themselves capable of thus far.
Want more profiles of digital heroes? Check out: Partying Like It’s 1984…