Edward Snowden revealed last summer that the U.S. is conducting mass surveillance of our internet activity, and now the internet is fighting back. On Feb. 11, a collection of popular sites and activist groups are staging a mass protest against the National Security Administration (NSA) and the blanket, warrantless spying that they do in the name of security.
The groups taking part include popular hubs like reddit, Mozilla, TaskForce and Boing Boing, and activist groups like Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Fight For The Future.
The protest is both in celebration of the defeat of twin bills that challenged net neutrality, PIPA and SOPA, and in honor of Aaron Swartz, who cofounded reddit and Demand Progress, helped build RSS and committed suicide on Jan. 11 2013. The coalition explains the need for their protest like so:
“Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.
If Aaron were alive, he'd be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.
Now, on the the anniversary of Aaron's passing, and in celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA that he helped make possible, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.”
So, what’s the plan? According to the protest website, “thousands of websites” will host a banner asking users to call their representatives in Congress to oppose the FISA Improvements Act (which would officially legalize the NSA’s bulk data collection) and support the USA Freedom Act (which would limit the NSA’s right to spy and collect data). People are also encouraged to post on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social media outlets they frequent in support of the protest.
Last year’s defeat of PIPA and SOPA showed the power of this coalition to defeat a little-known, corporate-sponsored pair of bills—which typically sail through Congress on the wings of campaign finance money. NSA spying has become a national issue, and a cause célèbre for politicians looking to take a populist stand. If this coalition can generate a large enough wave, we might actually have sensible spying laws in this country, or at least block the attempts to make these laws worse.