A day to fight back

Hoping to capture the same grassroots outcry that successfully blocked ham-handed anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA two years ago, a number of organizations on both the left and right have set Tuesday, Feb. 11, as a day to “fight back” against the NSA’s massive Internet and telecom surveillance.

It’s a worthy initiative that deserves attention and support from anyone who values the Internet and World Wide Web as the resources they are and should continue to be. Although the effort lacks the focal point of impending legislation—in 2012, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act both looked poised to barrel through Congress—the Day We Fight Back has an international scope the SOPA/PIPA protests didn’t.

Events are scheduled in cities from Belgrade to London to Bogota, Colombia. In the United States, demonstrations are planned in deep DWFB1blue enclaves such as Minnesota and California as well as red states such as Texas and Utah. Both the Libertarian Party and FreePress.org have lent their names to the cause.

Participating organizations are appealing for support, ranging from placing banners on web pages to organized demonstrations and street protests. In Chicago, there will be a downtown march against in favor of Fourth Amendment rights and against warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency. In Austin, Texas, participants are being urged to take to the streets dressed as NSA agents and act as if they are recording the day-to-day activities of passers-by. In San Francisco and Bluffdale, Utah, there will be demonstrations outside data centers where the NSA is active. A full list of events can be found at the Day We Fight Back website.

As I wrote last week, we should not dismiss the NSA’s massive Internet surveillance program with a sigh and a shrug. The tech community, which once could afford to snicker at the establishment’s inept attempts to block, regulate or ban each new Internet paradigm (Napster, Craigslist, Skype, BitTorrent, etc.), has come to realize that governments have become sufficiently knowledgeable and proficient to truly pose a threat to the very freedom of information the Internet facilitates. We should take a cue from them.

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