Yesterday in Berlin, a new international organization was announced whose purpose is to (1) defend whistleblowers when they are facing prosecution; and (2) defend the public’s right to know. In a video to the Courage Foundation opening announcement Edward Snowden described how we need to confront surveillance because in order to participate in a democratic government we need to know “what the government is doing to us and what they are doing in our name.” It the people are not informed about what the government is doing “the government becomes a force unto itself not a public servant but a public master.” Snowden believes that public officials who take illegal or unethical action must be held accountable. Snowden goes on to say that since government is not protecting whistleblower we must say “we will protect them as a global society.” For him the Courage Foundation is “a new rapid response team for global democracy” saying now, when “we see someone facing unjustified retaliation for performing a public service we can rally to their defense.”
Reset the net
On the first anniversary of the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, people united on the Internet to "reset the net" by taking steps to directly block mass surveillance. The changes made will effect 3 billion emails each month, 500,000 users each month, 187 million blogs and 14.5 billion web pages. The American public agrees NSA spying has gone to far. USA Today reports "By nearly 3-1, 70%-26%, Americans say they shouldn't have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism.? The Electronic Frontier Foundation summarizes the polls writing: Polls continue to confirm the trend. In a poll conducted in December 2013 by the Washington Post, 66% of Americans were concerned "about the collection and use of [their] personal information by the National Security Agency." Americans aren't only concerned about the collection. A recent Pew poll found—yet again—that a majority of Americans oppose the government's collection of phone and Internet data as a part of anti-terrorism efforts. Below is an infographic published by Fight for the Future summarizing Reset The Net's impact.
If we properly encrypt our sites and devices, we can make mass surveillance much more difficult. We’ll be serving pages only over SSL for all *.wordpress.com subdomains by the end of the year. A year ago today, we joined the world in shock on learning that governments were spying on internet users around the world. Tapping internet service providers’ undersea cables, intentionally and secretly weakening encryption products, surreptitiously collecting everything from call metadata to photos sent over the internet by US citizens — nothing was off limits. Just as troubling as the revelations themselves is the fact that since last summer, little if anything has changed. Despite a lot of rhetoric, our three branches of government in the United States have not made many concrete steps toward truly protecting citizens from unchecked government surveillance. Automattic has been a strong supporter of efforts to reform government surveillance. We’ve supported reform legislation in Congress, and participated in the Day We Fight Back, earlier this year. More importantly, we aim to make our own legal processes for securing the information our users entrust to us as transparent and protective as possible.
On the anniversary of the first news story based on Edward Snowden NSA leaks, Fight for the Future and other Internet privacy advocates are taking matters into their own hands. Legislators have failed to be own up to the illegality of the NSA programs which collect massive amounts of data on all citizens, nor will they protect them from NSA monitoring. The US government is conducting cyber warfare on its own people and whole populations in other countries around the world with little or no oversight. Thus, people must choose to protect themselves from government and corporate prying eyes. In this video, cybersecurity professional Ian Schlakman explains why he chose to leave the IT world to run for office in the district of the NSA.
It's been one year since news broke that Edward Snowden had leaked troves of US government documents detailing the National Security Agency's secret spying programs. And, to mark this anniversary Internet advocates have launched a pro-privacy campaign and day of action called Reset the Net. Not only have some top tech titans signed on, like Google, Mozilla, and Reddit, but Snowden himself has also thrown his weight behind the movement. In a statement issued via his attorney on Wednesday, Snowden said that in the face of government foot dragging, Reset the Net is a way citizens can "take back" their privacy. "Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same," Snowden wrote. "This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations." Reset the Net aims to circumvent policy makers and put the power directly in the hands of Internet users. The advocacy group behind the movement, Fight for the Future, has been rallying tech companies to join the cause and create encryption tools for users.
Some of the world's largest websites are planning a coordinated day of action on Thursday to oppose mass surveillance online. The sites, which include Reddit, Imgur and BoingBoing, will be taking part in the campaign, called "Reset the Net", in a number of ways. Some will showing a splash screen to all users, reminiscent of the one used in the successful protests against SOPA, the US copyright bill which many feared would damage the backbone of the internet. But rather than telling users to write to their electoral representatives, this protest will push more direct action, encouraging visitors to install privacy and encryption tools. Other sites have committed to improving their own privacy as part of the campaign, by enabling standards such as HTTPS, which prevents attackers from eavesdropping on visitors. Such security standards are common in the world of ecommerce, but rarer for sites which don't think of themselves as holding sensitive information.