What a year we just went through concerning digital freedoms. After starting so sadly with the tragic death of a young digital polymath, 2013 saw the rise of a sequence of other heroic figures who risked their lives to defend our rights.
Aaron Swartz's suicide shook up the whole community. It awakened the feeling that we could no longer remain passive in the face of growing abuse by governments and big industries. It seemed each week was marked by travesties perpetrated either in the name of security or of "intellectual property" -- two of the most formidable obstacles to liberty in this early 21st century.
In June, the Snowden affair marked a turning point in digital rights. It created a sudden awareness that the World Wide Web we evolve in is aptly named and could easily become an imprisoning cocoon.
Aldous Huxley warned us of this as long ago as 1931 in his novel "Brave New World":
The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of a democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping; a system of slavery where, through entertainment and consumption, the slaves would love their servitude.
Such a system can succeed only when those enveloped in it remain unaware of its machinations. I believe the transparency of open source can play a key role in revealing how these manipulations occur.
"Software freedom" per se may not be a human right, but when it is absent it is far easier to abridge our rights. When the source code is accessible to you and a community of developers is constantly improving the reliability of the product, at any time you can check how your data is being processed. If instead you opt for proprietary software, there is no chance for you to figure out what happens to your data.