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February 11, 2014: The Day We Fight Back Against the NSA

It only makes sense that the NSA be confronted online. After all, it’s the Internet the agency uses to spy on us. They’re not following us down dark streets or steaming open our snail mail. Instead, they’re monitoring our emails to discover who is in our circle and stalking us on Facebook and Google Plus. Especially if we use Windows, there’s no need for them to dirty their hands sifting through our garbage when they can enter through a virtual trap door on our computer to rifle through our word processor and spreadsheet files. Phone tapping? How old school in a world where every call we make, even from a land line, becomes VoIP somewhere along the line. When we use VoIP or Skype, they can easily listen. If we visit a website located in a country on their hit list, they sit-up and take notice.

The Day We Fight Back banner

The Day We Fight Back banner.

The people at the NSA don’t care about our right to liberty, happiness or even life itself. They are obsessed with what they see as their mission and are convinced, as zealots are always convinced, that the ends justify the means. They embody the worst of Stalin, Mussolini, Franco and Pol Pot. They do so with an American twist, maintaining an illusion of freedom which keeps us pacified.

February 11th will be The Day We Fight Back.

About two weeks ago, on January 10th to be exact, a call went out for a massive Internet protest, not unlike the protest two years ago against SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation. On that day, David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, one of the founders of the planned protest, said, “Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime. 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.”

His reference was to internet activist Aaron Swartz, the founder of Demand Progress.

The organizations behind this protest are known to us all, certainly to those of us who follow FOSS. In addition to Demand Progress; the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press organization, Reddit, Mozilla, and Boing Boing are behind this project.

There is an old saying that has become a cliché: let the punishment fit the crime. The planned February action seems to paraphrase that into: let the protest fit the issue.

During the SOPA action two years ago, websites from Wikipedia to Craigslist took their sites down for a day. This was appropriate, as it illustrated what an Internet hampered by draconian copyright restrictions might look like. Going dark would be inappropriate for the upcoming NSA protest, as that would be too much like rolling over and playing dead.

On February 11th, participating U.S. websites will display banners urging their visitors to call or email their Congressperson or Senator. According to the website set up to coordinate activity, “Plans may change, but we intend to ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support the USA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.” Websites outside the U.S. will ask their visitors to apply pressure locally to put privacy protections in place.

The Day We Fight BackYou, too, can get involved by making your family and friends aware of this protest and of what’s at stake. Talk about it on Facebook. Tweet about it. On The Day We Fight Back’s website, there are resources, graphics and so forth, that you can post to Facebook, Google Plus or any other social network. Anything you can do to get the word out will help.

We here at FOSS Force will be participating. The actions being taken by the NSA represent a clear and present danger to the rights of human beings around the globe. Please help us by doing your part to bring this chapter of world history to an abrupt end.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux.

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