Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Day We Fight Back (Against Gov't Spying)

Letters and Politics, Feb. 11, 2014 - 10:00 am
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Nearly a decade after the previous Obama administration (called the George W. Bush administration) authorized an expansive warrantless spying program by the decree of the president and under his sole authority as has since come to light, the issue of mass government surveillance has again sparked a global outcry with the disclosures of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Leaks of NSA (National Security Agency) files have exposed a mammoth spying apparatus that stretches across the planet, from phone records to text messages to social media and email, from the internal communications of climate summits to those of foreign missions and even individual heads of state and our credit card and medical information.

Today privacy advocates are holding one of the biggest online actions so far with "The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance." Thousands of websites will speak in one voice, displaying a banner encouraging visitors to fight back by posting memes and changing their social media avatars to reflect their demands, as well as contacting their members of Congress to push through real surveillance reform legislation.

The action is inspired in part by the late Internet open-access activist Aaron Swartz, "The Internet's Own Boy," who helped set a precedent in January 2012 when more than 8,000 websites went dark for 12 hours in protest of a pair of controversial bills that were being debated in Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
The bills miraculously died in committee in the wake of protests. Democracy Now! discussed today’s global action with Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
The Internet demonstrates against NSA surveillance
Alex Cohen and A Martinez (Take Two, scpr.org)
Today online activists around the world will be participating in what's being called "The Day We Fight Back."

It's meant to draw attention to the Internet surveillance done on Americans by the NSA under presidential decree and to call on Congress to act and limit the agency's powers.
David Segal is the executive director of one of the protest organizers, Demand Progress, and he joined Take Two to explain what will be done and how to measure success.

What will be happening Tuesday and why?
We’re planning to drive tens of thousands of phone calls to Congress from activists across the country in support of reforms to the surveillance program and specifically the USA Freedom Act is our flagship concern. It would end the both metadata collection and institute other reforms to the surveillance programs to make them less intrusive and ensure that there are greater protections for Americans’ rights. More

How Hackers and Software Companies are Beefing Up NSA Surveillance
Imagine that you could wander unseen through a city, sneaking into houses and offices of your choosing at any time, day or night. Imagine that, once inside, you could observe everything happening, unnoticed by others -- from the combinations used to secure bank safes to the clandestine rendezvous of lovers. Imagine also that you have the ability to silently record everybody's actions, whether they are at work or play without leaving a trace. Such omniscience could, of course, make you rich, but perhaps more important, it could make you very powerful. More

The Wild West of Surveillance
The question Senator Ron Wyden asked on March 12th of last year was straightforward enough and no surprise for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He had been given it a day in advance of his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee and after he was done, Senator Wyden and his staff offered him a chance to “amend” his answer if he wished. Did the National Security Agency, Wyden wanted to know, gather “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans”?  Being on that committee and privy to a certain amount of secret intelligence information, Wyden already knew the correct answer to the question. Clapper, with a day to prepare, nonetheless answered, “No, sir.  Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” More
The Internet Against Gov't Spies
Honor the US Constitution, NSA spies.
(AP/SCPR.org) A coalition of the nation's leading technology firms joined an international protest today against the U.S. government's spying programs, urging more limits on collections of Americans' electronic data and greater oversight and transparency about the secret operations.
Top executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, LinkedIn, and Twitter published a joint statement and sent a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama and members of Congress. The coalition of tech firms, known as Reform Government Surveillance, urged changes that would include a government agreement not to collect bulk data from Internet communications. More

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