Online, Live Protests Target NSA Surveillance
By Doug Gross
CNN — Hundreds of websites’ protests target NSA surveillance. These sites posted messages opposing online government surveillance on Tuesday, as activists planned live protests and other gatherings in cities all over the world.
Social news giant Reddit, blogging site Tumblr and Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser, were among the most high-profile sites to take part in the online protest. Much of it targeted surveillance by the National Security Agency in the United States.
“Today we must fight back against mass, suspicionless surveillance. Today we must protect both our civil liberties and the digital tools connecting us all,” Reddit said in a blog post. “Indiscriminate bulk surveillance programs by the NSA and their allies … violate the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy….
“In addition to individual privacy issues, these surveillance programs are damaging for online businesses like reddit. These programs undermine the basic freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables.”
The Internet’s biggest players, like Facebook, Google and Wikipedia, stayed out of Tuesday’s protests, at least publicly. But others didn’t pull any punches with their objections.
The live events scheduled for Tuesday included rallies in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Stockholm, San Juan and other places.
The coordinated global protest was announced in January, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz.
Swartz, an online activist and co-creator of Reddit and RSS feeds, committed suicide in 2013 while facing indictment on charges that he stole millions of online documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Aaron showed us that being a technologist in the 21st century means taking action to prevent technology from being turned against the public interest,” said Roy Singham, chairman of tech company ThoughtWorks, where Swartz worked at the time of his death, said in a news release. “The time is now for the global tribe of technologists to rise up together and defeat mass surveillance.”
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