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Late Digital Rights Activist, International Access to Knowledge Advocate, and NSA Spying Journalists Win EFF Pioneer Awards
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the distinguished winners of the 2013 Pioneer Awards: late digital rights activist Aaron Swartz, international access to knowledge advocate James Love, and Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras – the journalists behind the blockbuster stories detailing extensive spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
The award ceremony will be held the evening of September 19 at the Lodge at the Regency Center in San Francisco. Renowned academic, author, and activist Professor Lawrence Lessig will be the keynote speaker.
Pioneer award winners Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras brought the world clear and credible news and analysis about the massive domestic surveillance programs currently conducted by the NSA – transforming leaked documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden into riveting narrative that everyone could understand. These blockbuster stories exposed a web of convoluted, invasive spying on phone call history, email connections, and other communications data, sparking outrage across the globe and unprecedented admissions by the U.S. government about the extent of the surveillance. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator before turning to journalism. He was the first recipient of the I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism and won the 2010 Online Journalism Award. Poitras is a documentary filmmaker and has won a Peabody Award for her work, as well as a 2012 MacArthur Fellowship. She has also been nominated for both an Academy Award and an Emmy Award. Greenwald and Poitras are both founding board members of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which supports and defends transparency journalism.
James Love is one of the leading champions in the international battle for access to knowledge, defending everyone's right to free speech, privacy, fair competition, and health across the globe for more than 20 years. As the director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Love was instrumental in the adoption of a global intellectual property treaty for people with reading and visual disabilities this year. Love tirelessly fought strong resistance from the intellectual property rightsholder community, and the result enshrines fair use rights – in this case, the right to transform reading material into accessible formats – into an international treaty for the first time in history. Love has been a crucial defender of users' rights against trade agreements with restrictive copyright provisions like TPP and ACTA, and is also fighting against the content industry's efforts to expand new, copyright-like rights over content to broadcasters. Additionally, as a civil society leader in Washington, D.C., he advocates for open, transparent rulemaking.
Aaron Swartz's achievements and influence on the Internet and its activist community are profound, despite his untimely death at age 26 earlier this year. Swartz co-authored the RSS web feed format when he was 14 and was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. He was a developer of the Internet Archives' Open Library and one of the co-creators of the online news site Reddit. Swartz founded the online activism group Demand Progress, which was a critical part of the successful campaign blocking the SOPA and PIPA Internet censorship bills. Swartz was also a committed activist for the cause of open access to government and government-funded information. In 2011, Swartz was accused of downloading millions of academic articles from the online archive JSTOR, allegedly without "authorization" even though his access to JSTOR through MIT's open network was authorized by JSTOR's contract with MIT. He faced 13 felony counts of hacking and wire fraud, including some under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). After two years of fighting the charges, Swartz tragically took his own life this past January.
"Aaron was nominated for a Pioneer Award regularly over the years, and we always thought we'd have a long time to give it to him – he had done amazing work so far, and we knew that over time he would continue to contribute to building a better future for the Internet and digital rights," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "All of EFF is heartbroken at his passing and that we didn't seize the opportunity to give Aaron this honor while he was still with us. But we'll do our best to celebrate his life and do justice to his giant body of work."
"What all of this year's Pioneer Award winners have in common is the desire to democratize the flow of information, and they have all made the world a better, fairer place through their tireless efforts," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "We are so proud to be able to honor them and their extraordinary achievements at the ceremony on September 19th."
Tickets to the Pioneer Awards are $65 for EFF members and $75 for non-members. Also available are tickets to a special advance reception featuring past and present Pioneer Award winners, special guests, and keynoter Lawrence Lessig, who spent more than a decade leading the fight for intellectual property reform and now is part of the campaign to reform computer crime law in the wake of his friend Aaron Swartz's death.
Awarded every year since 1992, EFF's Pioneer Awards recognize the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees include Tim Berners-Lee, the Tor Project, Limor "Ladyada" Fried, Linus Torvalds, and Tunisian blogging collective Nawaat, among many others. Sponsors of this year's Pioneer Awards include Automattic, Inc., Facebook, SaurikIT, JunkEmailFilter.com, JibJab, and Pinterest.
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Electronic Frontier Foundation