Across the world, countless men and women have done incredible things to maintain an open and free internet. From uncovering and sharing classified documents to creating art that challenges our notions of surveillance, these heroes have enriched the debate on privacy and changed the way we associate online. Here, ExpressVPN looks at the life and achievements of these extraordinary individuals.
Founder of WikiLeaks
In 2006, Australian computer programmer Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks, the website that would eventually gain worldwide fame for publishing Chelsea Manning’s leaked Afghan and Iraq war files. Assange remains a controversial figure, currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under fear of extradition to the United States.
Whistleblower and privacy advocate
In 2013, Edward Snowden and his thumb drive full of classified NSA documents boarded a plane and changed the world forever. His bravery forced the world to reckon with the consequences of mass surveillance and inspired a new generation of whistleblowers.
NSA leak journalist
He’s a man of many talents, from civil rights litigator to best-selling author. But Glenn Greenwald is perhaps best known as the journalist who brought Edward Snowden to the public’s attention.
Few people understand what it means to be under surveillance (and how to fight back!) as well as Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Reporter and internet privacy hero
Have you seen “Citizenfour,” the Oscar-winning Laura Poitras documentary about how Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s secret mass surveillance programs?
Then you might remember Ewen MacAskill.
U.S. Army whistleblower
What would you do if you thought the army you served in was carelessly killing innocent civilians, and illegally torturing others? It’s a tough question.
Chelsea Manning chose to reveal the truth to the whole world.
WikiLeaks, Tor, and defender of privacy
Jacob Appelbaum has made a name for himself as the only American working for WikiLeaks, as a vocal advocate of the Tor Project, and for a controversial harassment scandal that cost him his career.
Computer scientist and online rights activist
Enter Jérémie Zimmermann, founder of the internet freedom advocacy group La Quadrature du Net. He also co-authored the book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Journalist and legal researcher
If you had to name the two most significant figures in the global surveillance and online privacy debates, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden would probably be the two you went for. But if you had to name the person that links them, there’s only one answer: Sarah Harrison.
Researcher and inventor
The concept of wearable technology is finally gaining some traction. Apple finally entered the smartwatch party, and Google’s high-profile Glass project very nearly took off. But it’s not a new idea—in fact, it was pioneered by the American researcher and inventor Steve Mann in 1981.
The first NSA whistleblower
William Binney was once the man who designed the National Security Agency’s automated surveillance systems. But he left the NSA in 2001, when he discovered his employer had started spying on civilians.
Inventor of the World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web—the part of the internet that makes websites and web browsers work. Without the World Wide Web (WWW), you wouldn’t have a browser to read this webpage on. Not that it would matter, because without the WWW, this webpage wouldn’t exist for you to browse to.