2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

The Future of Direct Activism in the Digital Age

#sxsw #OnlineNVDA

Climbing a smokestack or chaining yourself to a tree is so 20th century (though still awesome!). What can civil disobedience and non-violent direct action look like online?

With examples from Aaron Swartz's freeing of information to a whistleblower like Edward Snowden to Anonymous-style hacking, we'll examine the following questions:

-- How does civil disobedience translate online?
-- What are current examples of civil disobedience and non-violent direct action happening online?
-- Molly Sauter (a panelist), has classified online civil disobedience into three categories: disruption, information distribution, and infrastructure. Are there tactics that exist outside of those categories?
-- How can we plan and organize civil disobedience online, given what we know about government and corporate monitoring of our communications?
-- How are our targets different for online direct action than offline direct action?



Benjamin Simon

Mobilisation Campaigner

Greenpeace USA

Ben Simon is a Mobilisation Campaigner and Senior Strategist with the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace. Simon was director of new media campaigns for Organizing for America and the Democratic National Committee. Prior to joining Greenpeace, he built a grassroots fundraising program for Mozilla, organizing around protecting the open Web and helping to build a generation of web makers, as opposed to passive consumers. Simon has organized and run online campaigns for a range of other progressive, non-profit organizations, including Oxfam America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Pre-K Now, Making Change at Walmart, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

David Segal

Exec Dir

Demand Progress


Molly Sauter

Doctoral Student

McGill University

Molly Sauter is a doctoral student in Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, as well as a research affiliate at the Center for Civic Media at MIT and the Berkman Center at Harvard University. She studies online activism, depictions of technology in the media, and internet policy. She's spoken at SXSW, HOPE9, 29c3, NewsFOO, and IAMCR, and her work has been featured in The Atlantic, iO9, Popular Mechanics, BoingBoing, the BBC, and Der Speigel.


Shahid Buttar

Exec Dir

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Shahid Buttar, executive director, leads the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the grassroots networks it supports in their efforts to defend civil liberties and constitutional rights threatened within the US by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He is a constitutional lawyer, grassroots organizer, independent columnist, musician, and poet. Shahid received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and Larry Lessig's teaching assistant for Constitutional Law. Shahid’s comments have been featured by news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, CNN, al-Jazeera, FOX News, Reuters, Agence-France Presse, Huffington Post, Truthout, Democracy Now!, and many others, including dozens of radio programs around the country. He frequently addresses public audiences, such as elected bodies, colleges, and law schools, including Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Chicago, the University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown. In addition to his work leading BORDC, Shahid also serves on the advisory bodies of the Rights Working Group, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, and South Asian Americans Leading Together.

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