November 13, 2021 - 12:00pm PST

EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow presents at this year's Aaron Swartz Day with a talk called "Move Fast and Fix Things: Aaron's Legacy, Competitive Compatibility and the CFAA":

This year, the Supreme Court substantially narrowed the Reagan-era Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - the 1986 law that was used to threaten Aaron with more than 30 years in prison for a terms-of-service violation. With that ruling in the Van Buren case, the most expansive "anti-hacking" law on the books, a veritable legal bazooka, was diminished to little more than a pea-shooter.

That's great news, obviously. And yet...This is the moment at which "move fast and break things," and "beg forgiveness, don't ask permission" have been transformed from hacker rallying cries into pathologies to which we can attribute so much of our current technological misery.

What is the role for unilateral technological action today? When is it okay to mod a product or service - not just without permission, but against the wishes of the company that supplied it? How can "Right to Repair" coexist with "Responsible Tech?" How can we insist that Facebook be hackable - while demanding a future free from Cambridge Analytica scandals?

What, in short, is the state of Aaron's legacy in this moment of technological peril, control, manipulation and dominance?