'The Day We Fight Back' calls for protests against NSA spying

Tech companies and privacy advocates have dubbed February 11 a "worldwide day of activism" to speak out against the NSA's surveillance and mass data collection.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Those of you angered over reports of NSA spying are being urged to add your voices to those of a group of 5,300 companies and Web sites staging a worldwide protest.

Dubbing February 11 "The Day We Fight Back," organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press, Mozilla, Reddit, and Tumblr want Internet users to call or e-mail their legislators to pressure them to end the National Security Agency's mass surveillance program. The groups also are asking Web site owners to set up banners on their pages to urge visitors to join the cause.

Susan Molinari, Google's vice president of public policy, used the occasion to argue in a blog post that the US government should make major changes to how it responds to electronic privacy concerns. She said Congress ought to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require the government to get a warrant before compelling tech firms to disclose the content of user communications; and pass the USA Freedom Act, a proposed law that would codify proposed surveillance reform principles.

A series of protests also are planned today in the United States and other countries. And the groups involved have suggested setting up local events as another way for people to participate.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also is drawing attention to its 13 Principles, a document that it says outlines how surveillance can be conducted without impinging on human rights. The overall goal behind "The Day We Fight Back" is to raise awareness and put more pressure on Washington to limit the NSA's methods, which have been criticized by Internet users, privacy groups, and several of those serving in Congress.

"Since the first revelations last summer, hundreds of thousands of Internet users have come together online and offline to protest the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance programs," Josh Levy, Internet campaign director at Free Press, said in a statement. "These programs attack our basic rights to connect and communicate in private, and strike at the foundations of democracy itself. Only a broad movement of activists, organizations, and companies can convince Washington to restore these rights."

Update at 10:03 a.m. PT with statement from Google.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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