Snowden, Pussy Riot take over online ads to protest censorship

Political activists lend their voices to an online campaign calling attention to government censorship and surveillance.

People using ad-blockers will still get promotional messages when surfing the Web this weekend.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russian punk band Pussy Riot and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will use the space created by blocked ads to protest online censorship on Saturday, according to Amnesty International.

The human rights group organized the takeover of the ad space with AdBlock, which makes a browser extension that prevents ads from appearing on Web pages.

​A sticker in Berlin, demanding asylum for Edward Snowden. The European Parliament has passed a symbolic resolution saying the NSA leaker should be protected from extradition to the US.

Edward Snowden warns that "you're being watched and recorded" in a campaign against censorship and surveillance.

Wolfram Steinberg/dpa/Corbis

"Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded," says Snowden in one of the messages.

The messages are part of a campaign to call attention to governments that censor free expression online and engage in mass surveillance. The message will click through to "content from people who governments have tried to silence," Amnesty said in a release.

The stars of the campaign weren't chosen randomly. Snowden shot to international attention after revealing mass data collection activities conducted by the US and UK governments. Three members of Pussy Riot were jailed after criticizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Ai, a prominent modernist artist, has been harassed after expressing his views on Chinese policy and society.

The campaign comes amid heightened concern over personal privacy, thanks to the ongoing fight between Apple and the FBI over whether the government has the right to compel a company to create a "back door" into our devices. Snowden weighed in on the debate earlier this week, saying the FBI is lying about its technical capabilities and is trying to weaken encryption.

"Some states are engaged in Orwellian levels of surveillance, particularly targeting the lives and work of the people who defend our human rights - lawyers, journalists and peaceful activists," said Salil Shetty, secretary general at Amnesty International, in a release. "This continuing development of new methods of repression in reaction to increased connectivity is a major threat to our freedom of expression."

AdBlock has 50 million users, according to the release, and the extension is available for Google's Chrome browser and Apple's Safari browser, as well as the iPhone.

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