“The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance” Aims to, You Know, Fight Back

If the web seems particularly aflutter with anti-NSA sentiments to you today, you’re not alone. One month ago today marked the anniversary of internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz’s death, and to commemorate the day a broad contingent of web companies and organizations (including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, Mozilla, Tumblr, Reddit, and more) banded together for a collective day of protest on February 11th, 2014 (today) known as “The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance.”

As part of the protest activities, visitors to any of the partner websites are encouraged to place phone calls or write emails to representatives to encourage action on two bills currently under consideration by the United States congress: the USA Freedom Act, which “curtails NSA surveillance abuses,” and the FISA Improvements Act, which “attempts to legalize the bulk data collection of phone records.” In case you couldn’t guess, the groups are in favor of the prior (USA Freedom Act) and in opposition to FISA Improvements Act.

The world has been particularly interested in questions of surveillance and privacy since last June when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden left the agency with a clutch of sensitive documents pertaining to domestic and foreign surveillance operations by the United States government. Snowden has been residing in Russia after being granted asylum last August. For a summation of just what Snowden’s actions exposed check out this article from Cloudwards.net.

Swartz, on the other hand, was a longtime contributor to some of the web’s most popular projects – Reddit, Creative Commons, and RSS were all created with Swartz’s support. Later, Swartz became involved in activist movements, namely the protests against the Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA. However, Swartz’s controversial opinions about freedom of information often landed him in hot water. Shortly before his death he was charged with federal wire fraud for the download and distribution of academic articles from the scholarly journal database JSTOR. Days later, Swartz committed suicide in his Brooklyn, NY apartment.

The Day We Fight Back runs all day February 11th, and urges a “worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime” in Swartz’s honor.

For more information about the protest, the pieces of legislation in question, or to contribute to the movement’s calling or email campaign, visit www.thedaywefightback.org.

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