Feb. 11: “The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance”

Pic: Jeff Schuler (CC)

Pic: Jeff Schuler (CC) of original art by “Venchen”.

They know you’re reading this.  Dan Gillmore writes at the Guardian:

Two years ago, major websites like Google, Reddit and Wikipedia went dark for a day. They were protesting the then-pending “Stop Online Piracy Act,” federal legislation that would have done enormous damage to the open internet by creating system of censorship and deterring digital-media innovators. The 18 January 2012 blackout created an outpouring of opposition from average Americans who suddenly realized what was at stake, and Congress backed off a bill that almost certainly would have passed otherwise.

There won’t be a website blackout next Tuesday, 11 February, but there will be another virtual call to arms. In the US the primary goal this time is to help reverse America’s retreat from liberty by telling lawmakers we can’t abide a surveillance state – and by insisting they vote for a measure, called the USA Freedom Act, that would begin to restore the civil liberties we’ve lost in recent times. (For people outside the US the goal will be similar, to push authorities toward policies favoring liberty and privacy.)

Next week’s protest organizers are calling it “The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance“. They’ve lined up an array of backers of various political persuasions. You don’t often see the American Civil Liberties Union on the same side of an issue as the very conservative FreedomWorks, but they are this time.

The cynics will say, “Why bother?” They’ll note that the NSA and other security agencies in the US and abroad, urged on by a series of American presidents and other leaders, have ignored and broken laws with impunity. They’ll point out politicians’ epic hypocrisy; for example, members of Congress have supported the shredding of the Bill of Rights when presidents of their own party were in power, only protesting when the other party captured the White House. And they’ll assure us, even as public opinion turns against dragnet surveillance, that the next terrorist attack will swing the public mood back to the “keep me safe no matter what it takes” camp.

They’ll have a point. The relentlessness of the surveillance forces and their enablers in the technology industry, and the fecklessness of the politicians who are supposed to honor their oaths of office, make it hard to be optimistic. But realism doesn’t mean we should to give up.

The organizers of Fight Back are realistic. David Segal, a main organizer, is a former Rhode Island state representative and head of Demand Progress, an advocacy group founded by the late activist Aaron Swartz, who in turn was a key organizer of the fight against SOPA and, a year later, took his own life after being hounded by federal prosecutors on outrageously trumped-up charges. No one can doubt that Swartz would have been on the front lines of a day when we fight back, and it is dedicated in part to his memory.

Read more here.

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  • BuzzCoastin

    if you
    had the ability to access anyone’s personal info
    with impunity & undetected
    how could you stop yourself from accessing data profligately?

    ’cause Uncle Homeland & most gruberments can
    and they can’t stop themselves
    from breaking the law
    that’s how powerful the technology is
    they can’t stop themselves
    and neither can the law

    • echar

      I read somewhere that because of close proximity within communal living, that cave people must have develop ways of respecting privacy. Such as averting eyes, or forgetting details. I know that when I am in public, if I sense I am experiencing others doing something too personal, I avert my eyes.

      Also, from research about communes. It’s the close proximity of living that typically tears them apart.

      To answer you question, if I had unbridled access to information, I’d like to think that I would not abuse it. However, I cannot answer that truthfully; Because I do not have that power.

      • InfvoCuernos

        You don’t even have to go back to the “caveman” era; it wasn’t too long ago that the poor all lived in one room in a house, and anything the parents did in bed was pretty evident to all in the house. I’m pretty sure that this tendency to block out embarrassing sites and sounds extends to crime that people don’t want to be witness to.

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        I appreciate your candor. It takes self honesty to admit that we can’t be sure how we’d react to sudden enormous, far-reaching power. I rail against abuse of authority…and have for a long time…but if I rail against it harshly it’s because I know my own human frailty, my emotionality, and my impulsiveness…and I know that frailty and susceptibility isn’t unique. I have to actively work at it to maintain any principled stances in the face of circumstances that tug on my heartstrings and a propaganda drenched environment that constantly appeals to my subconscious desires and conscious opinions.

        • echar

          There are supposed to be checks and balances to power. If these Drake and Snowden events are to be trusted, then it’s obvious there is a problem. There is either no watchdog watching the watchdog, or the shot caller is calling the shots.

          At what point do the shot callers stop having to look up, and when do the watchdogs stop for the watchdogs?

  • Anarchy Pony

    So do we all turn off our smartphones and wear bags on our heads?

    • VaudeVillain

      Nope, just the opposite. Spend all day talking on the phone about bombs and international flights while posting on the internet about how much you hate the government.

      Give ‘em so many red flags they don’t even know what to do.

    • Cortacespedes

      YEP!

      And Shia LeBeouf is leading the charge!

      “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

      Them’s code words laddie! Code words!

      Something big ’bout to go down. I can feel something triggering in me as I type.

      Stay tuned to your local S/W numbers station for further instructions.

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