If you're elsewhere, find the nearest event on the Rt4 homepage: http://www.restorethefourth.net/
(Edit to add a shameless plug) If you're a dev interested in creating campaigns like this, sign up here: http://sina.is/task-force
Sure, I understand you want to have a good reach to people, but aren't we in agreement we don't trust anything that Facebook does at this point.
EDIT: Just to be clear - I 1000% support any and all protesting of the NSA, PRISM, FB and every other companies cooperation with this world-wide spying on all communications.
I dunno, it's arguably a _very_ well targeted message… If I were running the Facebook page (and I weren't already an NSA terrorist suspect by virtue of being a non-US person) - the page wold say "to signup and/or indicate your attendance, please post 'anonymous undercover defcon ninja nerd' or any other combination of the words from this list: http://au.businessinsider.com/nsa-prism-keywords-for-domesti... to your Facebook wall."
But yeah - if you're upset at the government _taking_ this personal information, how do you reconcile that with giving it all freely to Facebook Corp. in return for "free farmville"???
There's a huge difference between what I give and what is taken from me.
Replace you with Gizmodo's Jason Chen, and Facebook with Apple and the story becomes more plausible. 
We're not going to play their game and go off and cover our faces in public or not use the most popular sites on the internet because its a stupid game and isn't worth playing when theres real problems this country faces.
I plan on holding a sign at this protest that says "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Once everyday normal Americans realize theres nothing to be afraid of these clear violations of the 4th amendment will stop.
Once everyday normal Americans realize theres nothing to be afraid of these clear violations of the 4th amendment will stop.
I really wish people were smarter in these situations and rallied around specific, actionable requests e.g. get rid of FISA courts and have the normal legal process with full transparency. Requests that ordinary people can think are sensible, common-sense improvements to make. But hey I guess people just want a fun day out instead of actually implementing meaningful change.
1. Senate committee to investigate unconstitutional programs, ala Church committee
2. Amend statutes to prohibit blanket surveillance
3. DNI Clapper's resignation for lying to Congress and the American people at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Glad to see you've done your research, and breathlessly awaiting the nationwide campaign you're organizing that will be "implementing meaningful change."
I remember an organization I joined the board of, where an earlier board had removed a section from the standing rules, leaving a gap. The board immediately before us decided this was silly, and obviously we should just re-number.
Except this meant going through and updating every document that referenced the standing rules, printing out and distributing the new versions, &c, for an entirely superficial change.
We rolled that back.
People need to be made to think about the consequences of policy, and unfortunately we don't have a good venue for that - protests aren't it, but our national discussion otherwise seems to be dominated by sound-bytes, gotchas, and the horse race.
We might get a bunch of people to become more familiar with GPG encrypted blobs, possibly encouraging people who haven't yet got around to working out how to use GPG/PGP to do so, all the while giving the big finger to Facebook and the NSA…
(You'd want some guaranteed buy-in first though - launching it and then only getting a handful of encrypted posts would send 100% the wrong message…)
We're expecting a much larger crowd than the FB page would indicate; we've been doing a lot of offline outreach in the community, and obviously not everyone's comfortable signing up on FB nowadays :)
Hope to see any fellow Austinites there. Starts at 11AM at the capital building, which has seen plenty of protest in the past few days given Governor Rick Infinite-Special-Sessions Perry's latest call to special session on a controversial abortion bill. Judging by the Austin subreddit, it seems many are in support and plan on being there for Restore the Fourth since it's in the morning and won't interfere with evening celebration plans with family and friends.
I'd like to create or join a working technical organization for the creation and distribution of existing of liberating technology, such as distributed social networks with strong perfect forward secrecy encryption, alternative currency systems etc.
RestoreTheFourth protests will be a great place to find more like minded techies, so let's organize before the 4th and spread the word during the protest.
Please join me, `fourthtech` on cryptocat, or see you in front of the Civic Center.
In the meantime keep protesting (to be seen and heard) and use technology to thwart said surveillance.
Don't listen to the "if you use encryption they'll definitely watch you" logic. Your messages are still encrypted until they brute-force their way through (a very long process compounded by how many people are using encryption).
If you don't use encryption they might not watch now you but when they do they'll see everything guaranteed.
Privacy is a basic human right that cannot be granted or taken away by any institution, be it government or other.
It's like saying don't worry about keeping planes safe because the chance of one crashing is so small.
And according to the NSA chief (who is unlikely to straight out lie to congress) said that more than 50 potential terrorist events have been thwarted because of these intelligence programs:
Have you not been paying attention to the news lately?
I suppose if you do enough mental acrobatics you can find a way to distinguish "the least untruthful" statement from a "straight out lie."
TL;DR: the only way we have a chance in hell is to have a HUGE turnout.
Stand up with technology and not just policy.
My current advice/hints/practice (note: this is from a non-US perspective, but apart from the content of emails/phonecalls, most of the points below would still be applicable even if I thought I technically had 4th amendment protections):
Make sure you've got GPG/PGP installed and configured, that you've got a working keypair (with "enough" bits and a securely stored private key and passphrase), make sure your public key is "findable" either on a public keyserver in an identifiable/searchable form or on your own site/blog/.finger/where-ever - and occasionally use it for completely innocuous communication. (I've committed to sending at least one GPG encrypted email a week, and regularly communication with friends who'll deal with it without getting asnnoyed)
Make sure you've got some "disk encryption" installed and configured. Put an encrypted partition on DropBox/GoogleDrive/SkyDrive/BTSync. Keep some innocuous (but regularly changing) data in there - as well as using it to store the occasional file that your really do want encrypted. (I'm using encfs, and the commercial version BoxCryptor on MacOS)
Download and install the TorBrowser bundle - possibly in your encrypted cloud-stored partition. Use it every now and then - I make a habit of using it when browsing government sites for mundane inquiries - including occasionally intentionally "leaking" personally identifying information over an SSL/Tor connection, just so if anyone goes looking they'll see a regular law-abiding(enough) citizen doing mundane law-abiding government interaction over strongly private connections.
Raise the privacy/spying issue when appropriate to people who've probably not considered it. Mention that while Google Docs and Gmail are convenient and inexpensive - that someone might be required to answer due diligence questions about choosing them over on-premises alternatives one day. Point out that Skype/Yammer/AIM/gTalk might not be the appropriate channel for discussing corporate-in-confidence matters. Ask the question about whether the data jurisdiction of MessageLabs or Outlook.com email meets regulatory obligations for business or customer (or patient or child) privacy. Don't be a pain in the ass about it - but become known as "the guy who always makes sure those points get raised and minuted at the appropriate meetings".
I'd love additional input/ideas for that list…
(signed with firstname.lastname@example.org - 432263ED - available from pgp.mit.edu)
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Indeed, democrats gravitated to Obama, especially the second time around, because he projected a strong stance on national security. He was the guy who killed Osama and that sold really well. Republicans love strong national security, and democrats either do too (Reagan democrats), or are sick of their candidates being considered weak and soft on communisim/terrorism/etc. Democrats wouldn't vote a President Kucinich because he is perceived as weak and at this point neither party wants to put up a candidate like that. Geez, just look at Carter. That was a guy whose politics mesh really well with the prevailing mood on HN, but look at how the democratic party has swept him under the rug. In the U.S., being perceived as weak is fatal in a leader.
And even at the local level, techies, insistant on ideological purity, won't make the compromises necessary to make this happen. Are you going to vote for a Congressman who wants the 10 commandments hung up in schools, wants to see abortion made illegal, and whose objection to survrillance comes from the same survivalist mistrust of government that makes him a top-rated candidate by the NRA? If techies as a whole are willing to do that, maybe they can get some congresspeople elected. As it is, they support a democratic party that doesn't really care strongly about civil liberties. Its Tipper Gore's party, the one that tried to undermine the 1st amendment by banning violent music lyrics from stores and recently tried to ban violent video games with a law that was struck down by the Supreme Court. You think all the "think of the children!" suburbanite Californians share the distrust of surveillance that people on HN do?
* The ability for the constituency to override important votes if thresholds are met
* The capacity to initiate a vote of no confidence in an elected official at any time, and for such an action to take effect immediately should it pass, establishing new candidates and elections for the position
* Public financing of all campaigns, with free and open access to all media channels required by law, as a duty such companies must shoulder in exchange for the privilege of operating their businesses within the United States
* Declaring that money is property, not speech. Lobbying must be performed by no more than one degree of separation from the original sponsor, and utilizing chains of shell companies and organizations to mask the source of lobbying becomes a criminal offense with a mandatory prison sentence for every link in the chain
* EDIT (forgot this one): Requiring all public data --laws, emails, chat logs, sanitation test results, etc, etc-- be digitally available over the internet and accessible to everyone with a free and open API as well as simple web portal
* Legal teeth built into election law that establishes the following for all elections at all levels:
+++ A none-of-the-above candidate. Should it take majority, all candidates that lost to it are barred from the next election, which takes place N weeks later with new candidates
+++ Implement an Instant Runoff voting scheme
+++ Implement a Mixed-Member Proportional Representation districting scheme.
But... that's just me. I think the mechanics of how we do "democratic-republic constitutional federalism" is more important than any particular issue.
I kid. Unfortunately, many of these are good but would be impossible to pass in today's political climate.
One that I agree with strongly and would make a huge difference is an instant run-off ballot.
Not that this is easy, but it's another option.
In other words, you are waiting for this guy:
"I am major party candidate so-and-so, and I swear to you that I will not allow the government to spy on you!"
Why would you have voted for Obama the second time after seeing what sort of president he was in his first four years? Did those four years not give you a clue that maybe Obama was a wolf in sheep's clothing?
Simply choosing between major party candidates in the general election isn't going to get the job done - we need to find ways to apply pressure earlier in a meaningful way and get both parties shifted away from the authoritarianism that dominates.
But...they don't. At least, not collectively. Under the status quo system, each major party has preferences, numbered in order (letters distinguish approximately-equal-preference alternatives within the numbered category):
1. We get your vote,
2a. Your vote goes to someone other than the other major party
2b. You don't vote,
3. The other major party gets your vote.
In fact, each major party has a pretty strong incentive to want people that aren't sold on their platform to blame the two-party system and opt out entirely either by not voting or voting third party, since you voting for the other major party is going to be twice as bad for the major party you aren't voting for than not voting or voting third party.
On issues like this one, where party positions seem to depend only on whether it's their guy doing it, I'm not sure what the appropriate strategy is.
It requires looking beyond voting. The only reason issues like you describe exist is because there isn't a sufficiently strong committed electoral constituency around the issue that will vote, run primary challengers, and provide money and boots on the ground for campaign operations around the issue, so that it just becomes a tactical issue of convenience to the major parties.
Voting behavior, alone, isn't going to do anything to change that. Voting is important in a democracy, but it isn't the only -- or even the most important -- form of political participation.
It still leaves the direct question - while less important - unanswered: when we do go to vote, what is the optimal approach on this kind of issue?
Voting is a blunt instrument that's very rarely useful -- especially in one election -- at affecting change on any specific issue of this type (that is, one on which the major parties have no real distinction, though they exploit any opportunity to take PR pot-shots at the other party.)
If you haven't changed the landscape by political action before the election so that the issue you are concerned about is no longer that kind of issue, then there isn't an effective voting strategy available.