Opponents of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance programs are keeping the pressure on: The Day We Fight Back, a day of online protests to oppose mass spying, is scheduled for Tuesday.
Even though the movement is mainly aimed at pushing the U.S. government to take action, more than 5,000 websites from around the world have committed to participating in some way to speak up for privacy protections. Some notable names taking part include the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and the Libertarian Party, which will run banners on their websites asking users to write their legislators and raise hell.
The effort comes about two years after a big Internet campaign helped defeat SOPA and a similar measure. The Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA (Protect IP Act) were anti-piracy legislation that could have resulted in censorship and government overreach. Tens of thousands of websites, including Google and Wikipedia, took part in the protest — which as we wrote also paved the way for similar activism, including tomorrow’s effort.
We wrote last year, soon after the revelations about widespread spying on electronic communications, about a protest called Restore the Fourth — as in the Fourth Amendment. Some of the same groups involved in tomorrow’s protest participated in last year’s.
Since then, there have been some baby steps in the push to rein in the NSA’s surveillance practices. They include limits to the collection of phone records, as promised by President Obama and approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Major Internet companies also have won the right to disclose more information about the amount of national security requests they receive, although Twitter and other critics say the broad disclosures aren’t enough. And participants in The Day We Fight Back protest are being asked to call on their legislators to support the USA Freedom Act, which as we’ve written would amend the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act ushered in new spying practices as part of the American anti-terrorism fight.
Photo: A protester with the organization Code Pink wears giant glasses with the message “Stop Spying” as NSA Director General Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in this October 29, 2013, photo. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)