Unwarranted mass surveillance has proven to be a universal issue, providing common ground for private corporations, libertarian groups, and civil liberty advocates to unite. On Tuesday February 11, a broad coalition will take a stand against the National Security Agency (NSA) and engage in a global day of action, “The Day We Fight Back.”
The Day We Fight Back is tied to the activist and technologist Aaron Swartz and his contributions to the digital rights movement. Swartz was a key individual in the movement to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that sought to limit access to sites with user-generated content. Because of the efforts of Swartz and other activists, the Internet remains intact as a universal platform for all users.
In a press release for the event, Demand Progress’ executive director David Segal was quoted, “If Aaron were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Freedom Works, and Mozilla are just a few of the organizations participating in this mass action. Tomorrow websites of participating organizations will display banners calling Americans to urge Congressional support of the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill seeking to eliminate bulk data collection. There will also be tons of social media activity promoting grassroots actions organized between San Franciso, CA to Copenhagen, Denmark. Links to petitions against the NSA’s bulk collection programs on platforms such as Reddit and Tumblr.
“We will use the Internet and websites around the world to speak out against mass surveillance,” said Rainey Reitman, Activism Director for the EFF. “We have been escalating and changing tactics over time. Initially we had people out in the streets, then a march in Washington, D.C. for an in-person protest right in front of Congress and now we see this fight go online.”
This action comes at an interesting point of time in the debate on mass surveillance. President Obama’s review board and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board have recently released reports, classifying the agency’s actions as illegal. The program’s constitutionality has been questioned in the courts. President Obama has given a national speech proposing reforms that have since been approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But in reality, very little has been done to solve the issue.
“The fact is that civil liberty advocates feel that Obama didn’t go far enough, that he was only poking at the edges,” Reitman said. “That’s why the people are turning away from Obama as a target for pressure and turning to Congress.”
Putting pressure on Congress is a key focus for The Day We Fight Back. Many participants will be encouraging their members to email or call their representatives and voice their support for proposed legislation such as the USA Freedom Act. This Act would significantly limit the NSA’s current powers, from amending National Security Letter requirements to ending the bulk collection program in its entirety.
“After the leaks from Edward Snowden, after the success of the Stop Watching Us Coalition and with the growing momentum behind the USA Freedom Act, the time is finally upon us,” said Nathan White from Demand Progress. “This is a day of activism for all of us to stand up and fight to end bulk collection, and for many of us it is also a day to honor Aaron for all he was and all he stood for.”
If you believe that now is the time to fight back against the NSA’s mass surveillance, check out TheDayWeFightBack.org and participate in one of the day’s actions.