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The Day We Fight Back (thedaywefightback.org)
460 points by sinak on Jan 10, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments

No, it's not fighting back. Making clever memes online to earn a chuckle or two might help spreading awareness, but in reality changing an online avatar and posting memes online won't affect much in real life.

What I find strange is that(Please correct me on this one) there just doesn't seem to be a political group of technologist who lobby(the original meaning) against politicians. In truth, technology-related policies should be consulted and heard by people who use and develop the said technologies.

What's worse about this retaliation is that anyone participating it would have an illusion of having done something without actually having done anything(i.e., impact). At the end of the day, you might walk home feeling good about yourself for having fought for a cause, but some harsh reality check needs to be done.


As per the second paragraph, refer to one of the replies on this comment(https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7038058):

> An abbreviated list of groups who do that: EFF, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, Engine Advocacy, CDT, OTI, Free Press. Many of these have multiple registered lobbyists walking the halls of Congress and taking meetings.

I stand corrected.

You're wrong about the lack of groups who lobby. An abbreviated list of groups who do that: EFF, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, Engine Advocacy, CDT, OTI, Free Press. Many of these have multiple registered lobbyists walking the halls of Congress and taking meetings. I've actually done this myself too, on my pet issue of cell phone unlocking, with the help of a lobbyist from D.C. Unfortunately, most of these groups, bar the EFF, are almost completely known in silicon valley and the tech community. There are likely many reasons for that, but two that often get called out are the distance between San Francisco and DC (culturally and physically), and a libertarian bent amongst many technology.

The goal of this is campaign is to drive calls to Congress on 02/11, making clever memes is simply the vector by which we spread word of the campaign. Calls do very much have an effect on how representatives vote. For evidence of this I highly recommend reading the Communicating with Congress series of studies by the Congressional Management Foundation [1]. Alternatively, ask who has worked as a staffer: calls make a big difference.

It's so very, very easy to be cynical about this kind of thing, but it's a trap. It's weird to quote Plato, but he sums it up pretty well: "The chief penalty [of good people who refuse to lead] is to be governed by someone worse."

[1] http://www.congressfoundation.org/projects/communicating-wit...

> > What I find strange is that (Please correct me on this one) there just doesn't seem to be a political group of technologist who lobby(the original meaning) against politicians.

As I've stated I am rather ignorant of such groups. I stand corrected. Now, awareness of those groups should be more spread, wouldn't you agree?

The first organization on "The Day We Fight Back" is the EFF. If you want to raise awareness, take part in this thing. And go to EFF meetups this month.

I would really like to believe that calls to Congress make a difference.

They did with SOPA. Because there were millions of them. But how do millions of phones calls get sent? By having each and everyone of us calling.

I'm pretty sure EFF, DemandProgress and the like are doing exactly that.

Or are you saying they should form a Super PAC? But in that case, it won't exactly be "traditional lobbying", would it? It would be just paying politicians to do what they're asking them. I don't know whether that would be good or bad given the current corrupt lobbying system that the government has gotten accustomed to, but at least we should call it what it is before we dive in.

> What I find strange is that (Please correct me on this one) there just doesn't seem to be a political group of technologist who lobby(the original meaning) against politicians.

Thank you. As I've stated I am rather ignorant of such groups. I stand corrected.

No. Why is achievement in our culture positioned to always be this 3-act epic like we have to slay the bad guy? try rethinking your approach here and accept that it is actually totally fine to walk home at the end of the day and celebrate a small victory.

There are indeed technology consultants that inform these govt policy: they're called lobbyists and their influence is often proportional to how much their self-interest will prosper. this is why the system doesn't work and Hacker's like Aaron need to step in. None of us believe we'll walk away from this having fixed anything, it is an ongoing process to keep the system in check. The point, however, is to simply concentrate our anger and focus over a month into, as a hacker, doing SOMETHING proactive against this.

> it is actually totally fine to walk home at the end of the day and celebrate a small victory.

It is fine to walk home and celebrate a small victory.

It may not be fine to walk home and celebrate a victory, however small, when that victory is nothing but an illusion. Exactly what kind of victory will this movement achieve? From what I can tell it's another let's-feel-good-about-ourselves-by-shouting-at-same-time.

It makes you feel great, sure, but in the end what have you achieved? Two child comments from my comment have corrected me of groups who are fighting back. Perhaps a donation? Spreading awareness of the groups?

A political motion needs to happen continuously. A day's worth party may be fun, but in the end it's a party. People walk home and do not follow.

Not just mere lobbyists, they are 'insiders' who make the right people boatloads of money. They become "Board members" and/or consultants &/or get appointed to seats of power away from the cameras. Hell, they draft the laws that the puppet/script-readers introduce & vote on with much pomp & flourish... or surreptitiously, whatever suits their interests best.

I don't know any but one name on this list, but a quick check leads me to believe we're screwed. DHS Data Privacy Board Members list from '09: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:b2EYh7...

Chairman Howard Beals has no conflict of interest, I suppose: http://www.itif.org/publications/stricter-privacy-regulation...

D. Reed Freeman, ex-CPO of Gator Networks will fight for YOUR right to privacy, I'm sure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claria_Corporation

I'm also pretty sure a majority of people here @ HN will defend THEIR practices of collecting metrics, too. What's the difference? USGuv was tasked to protect & they took it too far, IMO. The Corps, privates & independents with knowledge, coding skills & processing power are tracking for profit... and have taken it too far, IMO.

Small victory

What victory? Keep what in check?

Opinions without objective consequences don't matter.

a political group of technologist who lobby(the original meaning) against politicians

Excuse my pedantry, but I think the need is not so much to lobby against politicians (which is to implicitly reject the concept of a polity and go for an everyone-for-themselves model instead), but to lobby against competing interests. In short, technologists need to lobby for their interests more effectively, which will mean doing a better job of articulating what our interests are, and why others should accept some crimping of their interests for the greater good. One recent and good example of this is the observation that compromising privacy limits our ability to export hardware and software and thus comes at an economic cost to taxpayers.

Yeah, did you even click on the link and try to understand before you made your original post? Aaron Swartz, the face being used for this movement who fought back, was behind the creation of reddit. He is much more involved with these technology-related policies than 99% of those Google, Verizon, etc. policy makers.

Please tell me again how this call to action has to do with Aaron Swartz other than the fact that the front page has his picture of him.

Awareness is good for stopping bad things that are coming down the pipe, but it pretty worthless for getting rid of bad things that are already in place.

To change the entrenched you need big industry players behind you and a willingness as a customer to lose something in the exchange for their new benefit.

I agree. The biggest threat to our rights is neither politics nor three letter agencies it's our own passivity. We would benefit more from a movement rather than an event.

"If Aaron were alive, he'd be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action."

While government surveillance and open access are both information issues, we definitely should not be construing what he would or wouldn't believe about revelations that were made after his death.

If we're taking a literal interpretation of his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, he may well be on the front lines fighting for a world with zero privacy from anyone.

I think the emphasis on Aaron is really a mistake. I follow this news relatively closely, reading HN every day, and I don't really see how Aaron's abusive prosecutors tie in to the NSA stuff.

The spying scandals are bad enough on their own. Adding Aaron's death into the mix just muddles the message and confuses people who are less informed.

Indeed, it muddies the issue. I am anti-NSA-spying but I am also anti-stealing-IP...

I should point out that I don't think Aaron should have been hounded to his death (tho' equally if he were mentally ill, anything could have pushed him over the edge). But that doesn't make what he did right. It has for 20 years baffled me that people can demand respect for the GPL et al but be happy to ride roughshod over anyone else's licenses.

The reason Aaron gets so much sympathy (EDIT: for what he did as well as for how he was treated) is that 1) a substantial portion of the JSTOR data is public domain, 2) a substantial portion of the rest is work funded with public money where it is controversial that it is only available under copyright.

But even disregarding that, I don't get why you are baffled: The GPL is a hack intended to spread freedoms. Many who support the GPL do not support it out of some desire to respect IP laws, but as a means of reducing the use of more restrictive licenses. E.g. to maximise access to knowledge or maximise the ability to modify and use data.

Wanting the data in JSTOR freed up, possibly regardless of copyright status, is entirely consistent with supporting the GPL in those cases.

For some this is a moral or ethical issue - it is perfectly possible to consider the current state of copyright an immoral restriction of personal freedoms.

Without IP, what stops people incorporating GPL code in their closed source proprietary products? See you can't have your cake and eat it. Either you believe there is a thing called a license which travels with your product and binds the user as to how they can use it, or you don't, there isn't really any middle ground there. The alternative is "everything is public domain!" in which case, no GPL.

I would expect that nearly any supporter of the GPL would also support a change to the law that eliminated copyright restrictions on the use of code.

The purpose of the GPL is not to prevent people from modifying and building on the code. The purpose... well, let me quote from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html :

  There are four freedoms that every user should have:

    the freedom to use the software for any purpose,

    the freedom to change the software to suit your needs,

    the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors, and

    the freedom to share the changes you make.
The GPL is a clever legal "hack" to achieve this, by allowing the code to be used only by others who agree to play by these rules. If the law were changed to enforce these rules directly, then no GPL would be needed. And eliminating intellectual property law restrictions on the use of code would get almost all the way there. (Companies would still be free to "protect" their code through secrecy: releasing only the compiled version and not the source code, but decompilers are pretty darn effective.)

I would expect that nearly any supporter of the GPL would also support a change to the law that eliminated copyright restrictions on the use of code.

Only if distributing software without its source was also made illegal.

I would expect that nearly any supporter of the GPL would also support a change to the law that eliminated copyright restrictions on the use of code.

WTF?!? No way! (although to be fair I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "use of code").

Companies would still be free to "protect" their code through secrecy: releasing only the compiled version and not the source code

This is exactly what the GPL is designed to avoid.

As you quoted above "the freedom to change the software to suit your needs" - that requires the source code!

"This is exactly what the GPL is designed to avoid."

...sort of. Source code access is important, sure, but here are a few more important issues that are basically orthogonal:

* The right to redistribute software

* The right to modify software (without source code?!?! Sure; imagine if I took Windows, removed the license protection code, and distributed that copy to you).

* The right to use software -- this, incredibly, can be a problem:


There is, in principle, nothing preventing us from applying "if you are distributing software, the source must be made available to your customers" to all software directly in law rather than through hacking copyright.

Or we could create a new system, one not based on the idea that you can own math and poetry, one not based on promoting the interests of publishers, and one that instead encourages the sharing of source code. The GPL is just a way to establish such a system by using the existing approach. There is no reason why we could not scrap copyrights (at least on software) and write a law that codifies the GPL more directly -- say, that any software user has the right to request a copy of the source code for their software.

I'm not saying it is a realistic possibility in today's world, but it is not as though the copyright system is the only system we could have.

> Without IP, what stops people incorporating GPL code in their closed source proprietary products?

Nothig. But then, a company wouldn't have the entire governemnt's power to persue and extract money from people using their software. It's a completely different equilibrium, you can't just look at one side of it.

And I'm not saying it's a good thing either. Altough I defend that it's not smart to depend ("depend" excludes games, by the way) on proprietary software, I never tought it was immoral to create it, until the NSA scandal. Now I don't have any firm opinion about it.

> The alternative is "everything is public domain!" in which case, no GPL.

There are many, myself included, who would be happy with this endgame. As long as no one can ever be prosecuted for creating a work, I am happy.

The GPL is needed because of the effects of copyright, not vice versa.

> Without IP, what stops people incorporating GPL code in their closed source proprietary products?

You can do this even with IP... if you're building SaaS instead of shrinkwrap, due to the GPL's most relevant restrictions here all hinging on the act of distribution of the actual software.

> Without IP, what stops people incorporating GPL code in their closed source proprietary products?

Without IP, there can neither be GPL (which licenses IP rights) nor close source proprietary (which is another model of licensing IP rights).

If GPL people are concerned about restrictive licenses why not use BSD or MIT which contain fewer restrictions?

What the GPL restricts is restrictions. Going with BSD allows more restrictions to be placed on the software by others.

It's similar in essence to forbidding slavery — some rhetorician might suggest that it abridges people's freedom to own each other, but the actual intent is to preserve a greater amount of freedom.

I find it funny that restrictions that in practice prevent people from monetizing software is compared to abolishing slavery.

I'm pretty sure the TSA also thinks its restrictions on air travel lead to greater freedom of mobility.

"I find it funny that restrictions that in practice prevent people from monetizing software"

No! The GPL and it's ilk are not and never have been about restrictions that in practice prevent people from monetizing software. When are people going to get that? The source code has to be supplied. You can still charge for access to it. I could make $KILLERAPP and charge $1000 for it, and not allow it to be public, but as long as when a customer buys it, I give them access to the source, I'm still GPL compliant.

Yeah yeah, this is where you go off about "in practice". Still wrong. In practice it doesn't prevent anything, in fact is is the practices used by companies (and people) that prevent them from using GPL, not the other way around.

> Yeah yeah, this is where you go off about "in practice". Still wrong. In practice it doesn't prevent anything, in fact is is the practices used by companies (and people) that prevent them from using GPL, not the other way around.

You're glazing over a lot of practical issues. For example, if you charge money for a product you are distributing under the GPL, once it has been purchased once, nobody else needs to purchase it because the first customer can simply give it away to everyone for free and you have no recourse.

Can you think of even one GPL product that has been successful through sales of GPL licenses? Because I really can't. In practice, companies that make money from GPL software almost never make their money from selling the software.

"Can you think of even one GPL product that has been successful through sales of GPL licenses? "

Actually yes, I can think of a quite a few. Redhat is a good example of a huge industry built around GPL software.

That really isn't the point though, and allow me to summarize your misconception.

"nobody else needs to purchase it because the first customer can simply give it away to everyone for free and you have no recourse."

Explain to me how this applies to GPL and not the BSD, (I doubt you can) and you will see how (at least this particular) argument is flawed.

You are not required to give that first customer the source code with BSD.

The only companies that make money on software containing GPL'd code are doing it server-side with pre-GPLV3 or AGPL'd code. I've worked at a lot of companies that used and created open source software; and the rules are invariably the same: No GPL'd software allowed into the source tree, period.

<blockquote>You are not required to give that first customer the source code with BSD.</blockquote>

That's only different if you are selling other people's software. If so, why should anybody have any simpaty?

It's also true if you are selling original software that borrows one line of code from somebody else's software.

You could conceivably try to claim fair use, in that case, although it would undoubtedly be easier (and easy enough) to replace that one line with something original.

Red Hat don't sell software, they sell support contracts.

That is patently not true: This Agreement establishes a framework that will enable Red Hat to provide Software and Services to Client. “Software” means Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss Enterprise Middleware and other software programs branded by Red Hat, its Affiliates and/or third parties including all modifications, additions or further enhancements delivered by Red Hat.

You are absolutely correct, although the point still stands in the context of the discussion. They aren't making money from accepting money in exchange for GPL software (people can just grab CentOS if that's all they want), they're making money from support, services, and non-GPL software that gets bundled along with a bunch of GPL software.

The discussion is about whether someone could run a business that is every bit as financially successful as a business that sells proprietary software, by asking for money for GPL software, and not having any other sources of income. Some posters seem to think this is feasible; I would disagree.

Quantum Leaps does dual licencing for the QP framework and commercially licences exactly the same code that it offers under the GPL. http://www.state-machine.com/licensing/index.php#Pricing

It is a common method to monetize software development by the use of exclusion, and threaten ones customer with lawsuits if they don't comply.

Is such abuse the most effective way to reach financially success? Maybe. Does it matter?

I could make $KILLERAPP and charge $1000 for it, and not allow it to be public, but as long as when a customer buys it, I give them access to the source, I'm still GPL compliant.

No you wouldn't. The GPL doesn't allow you to restrict the end user's ability to redistribute it. That "not allow it to be public" clause violates that.

"Yeah yeah, this is where you go off about "in practice". Still wrong. In practice it doesn't prevent anything, in fact is is the practices used by companies (and people) that prevent them from using GPL, not the other way around."

You just said that the GPL doesn't prevent people from doing anything that is allowed by the GPL, therefore the GPL doesn't prevent anything. Like, that is literally the argument you just used. Just sayin'.

"restrictions that in practice prevent people from monetizing software"




Yup, definitely stopping people from monetizing software!

But the underlying principle that all parties would have to agree on is that there are these things called "laws".

The underlying principle has been given a name by philosophers and political scientists. Its called "Negative Right".

Taken from wikipedia:

  Negative rights are permissions not to do things,
  or entitlements to be left alone. Often the distinction
  is invoked by libertarians who think of a negative right
  as an entitlement to "non-interference" such as a 
  right against being assaulted.

  Rights considered negative rights may include civil and
  political rights such as freedom of speech, private property,
  freedom from violent crime, freedom of worship, habeas corpus,
  a fair trial, and freedom from slavery.
for more, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

I think this is a completely valid question in the context of GPL (quite off-topic, but invoked in the parent thread) and I do not understand why this was downvoted.

GPL might have been about freedom at the time when it was introduced. Nowadays I and most businesses are scanning every piece of software for GPL in order to verify whether it is free.

GPL software was not created in order to provide free labor and tools to all businesses in the world. If you do not want distribute your software as GPL, scanning every piece of software for GPL is exactly what is expected from you.

I'm not saying that I would not contribute it non-GPL software. I do not mind companies closing their products.

However, GPL people do mind companies closing their software. So, those companies not using GPL libraries, no matter how useful is perfectly OK result.

This project was originally suggested by David Segal, Aaron's co-founder at Demand Progress, back in November. We'd been waiting for the right date to actually build and launch it, and David suggested that using Aaron's passing was likely the best marker, particularly since he and Brian Knappenberger had just uncovered some footage of Aaron talking about the need for a "moment of activism" around state surveillance (which'll be released soon). I can definitely understand the skepticism, but from my understanding it was definitely an issue he cared about.

Aaron's gripe was not having access to publicly funded research, which should be a slam dunk. Trying to tack him on to another cause, however well intentioned, is a disservice. There was an argument during the suffrage debates that they should include blacks as well, and justifiably, but if they had progress would likely have been delayed.

It muddies the issue, but people acted against SOPA, which is surely what they're trying to tap into.

I doubt they'll miss a few people who don't appreciate the issues being conflated, if doing so gains them some of the anti-SOPA folks who are willing to act.

Even when it came to fighting SOPA, much of the motivated base was under-informed and dealing in half-truths, exaggerations, fallacious arguments, etc.

But it worked.

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. A year ago this month _one of that movement's leaders_, Aaron Swartz, tragically passed away.

Not related in particular, and maybe a little selfish, but as someone who is also named Aaron, I sure would like it if people would, when referring to Aaron Swartz without honorific or qualifier, do so by last name, as is done with pretty much everyone else on the planet.

Not only would it be more specific to do so, it would be more respectful as well. Referring to someone by his first name, who has not given you that name himself, arrogates an degree of familiarity which I strongly suspect never existed between Swartz and most of those who, in the last year, have been talking about "Aaron" this and "Aaron" that like they were the best of friends. It's just rude, and jarringly so, given the apparently ubiquitious degree of respect extended to Swartz, especially in the wake of his regrettable suicide.

Whuh? I don't think there's any sort of logical contradiction between:

"Information, such as research papers, that has been written for the purpose of being disseminated and paid for with tax money, should not be locked up"


"The government ought not spy on people."

What does the first one have to do with privacy at all?

Aaron was an intensely private person. I am fairly certain that "zero privacy" was not a goal that he valued.

Am I the only one bothered by how many people are invoking Aaron's ghost? The intent might be pure, but it really bugs me when people speak for the dead.

And let's not forget, Aaron didn't pass away, he committed suicide. Case related stressors may have caused this, but it's also not right to make him the poster child for every anti-government/anti NSA campaign on the Internet.

Aaron was a pretty beautiful dude who had a clarity and pureness of intent to ensuring that information be as free as possible. That Aaron suffered mental illness, and the assumption that his legacy carry less value because he took his own life is kind of gross and disrespectful. Mental illness is stigmatized enough in our communities, and given a lot of the talk of HN users own depression issues, I'm surprised to see statements like this here.

Movements like this are part of Aaron's legacy. We know not the will of the dead. We can, however, celebrate the value and contribution of their lives. His was extraordinary (though all too short). What is so wrong with continuing the work he was so passionate about?

I don't believe his legacy should carry less value at all. If anything, I'm trying to defend his legacy so organizations like this will stop putting words and actions in his mouth/body.

I find this campaign to be in bad taste and on the brink of classlessness, despite the fact that I believe in the cause.

Meh. I see where you're coming from on this, but we as a society do this kind of thing all the time. Do you think Martin Luther King Jr would have approved of every anti-racism campaign that's used his name? Do you think he would have approved of having his birthday used to celebrate anti-racism? Who knows? Either way, as long as his image is being used to do something good, it's kind of a moot point. My issue with this is that his image isn't being used to do something good. It's being used as a means of getting people to post messages so they can feel like they're doing something good rather than actually doing something good.

May God bless him! Amen.

People always ask, why can't the progressives make their own Tea Party -- If you read through the responses on this page you'll have your answer. So much doubt and skepticism about everything...

It's funny all these people putting down "social networking", when most of us here work for companies who pay a shit ton of money to advertise and gain traction on "social networks". Then, on top of that, there are many of us here working to build more and improve social networking.

You bitch about how the media is corrupting the public's mind, yet you scoff at organizations that tries to use the media to rally for support of meaningful causes....

Every. Single. Time. Someone wants to do something positive, you guys just come and shit all over it.

I think the true slacktivism is people who bitch about slacktivism and offers no other solutions.

Yeah, it's way easier to stand together when the members of a group just don't use their brain that much and don't doubt even the most stupid beliefs (e.g. Jesus was a white man) but here we doubt everything, and skepticism is good on an individual level but it's the worst social glue for a group.

this isn't a "progressive" issue, it cuts across partisan lines.

Not really. This is a left-versus-right issue. Unfortunately, most major party politicians are on the right wing of the spectrum.

Yay, slacktivism!


edit: I wrote the above because there was no clear "call to action" other than changing one's Facebook profile picture (seriously?) but, according to the "Open Letter" [0], I guess we're all supposed to call our legislators that day.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7037532

I thought so too, but the big banner has a way to find and call your political representative about the issue. I'm just worried that the American populace isn't sufficiently interested in the issue to do anything about it.

Now if the top 100 sites in the US shut down for a day in protest ...

To be honest, I had to go back to the website and read it again so I would notice the suggestion to call the legislators. I think my brain has been trained (based on hard evidence) to ignore that option as ineffective (unfortunately).

> Now if the top 100 sites in the US shut down for a day in protest ...

... we'd call them hypocritical.

My first thought was that it is a prank by 4chan to collect email addresses.

as a non-US citizen this won't change anything for me.

"free society" here should be really re-worded to "free US society".

as long as there is a intelligence apparatus in the US at all, spying on the rest of the world will continue. by definition.

the NSA is monitoring all internet traffic as it would be really hard to know beforehand if it only pertains to US citizens. not sure what exactly you're trying to achieve here. the NSA either monitors facebook or it doesn't.

This is a broader movement. We're pushing for principles that extend beyond the US border, as best outlined here: https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/text

The US Constitual protection for privacy only applies to US citizens. Would US citizens be willing to amend it to make it apply to everyone.

Some things in the constitution apply only to citizens, most don't. When it says person, it means person, not citizen. Educating people that this prevalent view is false would already go a long way.

However, this definition of "person" requires them to be subject to US law (typically by residing in the US) which foreign residents of a foreign country are not.

That is part of the reason we have a detention facility at Guantanemo.

It is not sufficient that the person acting on someone else is subject to US law? That seems kinda broken. Do you have a link that elaborates on this? From the 14th Amendment for example:

> No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Note how it mentions citizens, any person, and persons within the jurisdiction as three separate things... ?

Not quite that clear. There is an (sort of) exemption to the US 4th Amendement warrent requirement for " surveillance is conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes and is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United States"

And this applies to blanket mass surveillance how?

What protection is that? Search and seizure is not about privacy; it's about physical intrusion into personal space. Had they meant to address intrusion into abstract privacy they would have.

It's easy to argue that abstract privacy as a concept separate form physical privacy simply did not exist at that time in history because of a lack of electronics. A corollary is that they probably would have added abstract privacy if they had had the benefit of hindsight.

Oh, it certainly existed. Conspicuously no stricture on unwarranted spying for purposes of investigation was stated and that had to be read into it later by the courts (which I consider juristic legislation.) It's not clear to me that the framers didn't intend to reserve that right for investigation.

I'm not saying it is wrong to restrict it, just that the constitution should have been so amended for it to be considered a constitutional question.

Maybe your government should be working to promote the security of its citizens. The US is not alone here, despite being a bad actor -- did your government work to promote widespread use of good cryptography, or did your country's law enforcement agencies whine about how hard it would be to wiretap people? Should I, as a US citizen, feel more comfortable with my personal data being stored in your country than you feel about yours being stored in mine?

Oh don't worry, they'll keep spying on Americans exactly like before.

If I got this right, we fight back by changing our avatars and putting banners on our blogs. Is that it?

Well, when socially networked narcissism is the order of the day in general, why expect anything else? I'm not particularly concerned about the Black Chamber doing what the Black Chamber does, but if I were, I'd certainly hope to see those who shared that concern aiming a little higher than merely to say "I'm agin' it!"

The banners appear to be able to let you put in your zip code and then help you contact your relevant representatives in congress. If enough high-traffic sites participate, like what happened with the SOPA blackout, I could see this actually having an affect on policy.

However, there probably needs to some kind of bill to support or other action to be urging representatives to do, other than contacting them saying that "spying is bad". The Open Letter to HN from EFF, Demand Progress, and Cory Doctorow [1] mentions some of these, but the campaign site here doesn't seem to contain any mention of them.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7037532

> If enough high-traffic sites participate, like what happened with the SOPA blackout, I could see this actually having an affect on policy.

The policy didn't change with SOPA or CISPA or whatever name they've snuck some of the same shit in by now. The policy is: more surveillance, more police state, less liberty.


the arm chair politics of Kony 2012 and all those missing children on facebook.

in reality we need to make people sick to their stomachs and use fear tactics the same way US politics does.

Documentaries, advertising, real life examples, sense of urgency.

I mean, we can just follow the doctrines of propoganda set before us daily :D

it's the masses that have power, not the community of hacker news.

Yup. The whole point is a build up to a "day of protest", but no mention what this is.

I assume all the avatar and banner changing is leading to February 11, the day in which we change our avatars and banners.

Well, it's a start. However, I agree that it's far more of a branding exercise than an agenda, not dissimilar to professional activists organizing a crowd and then handing out a bunch of preprinted signs to the people that arrive. I don't blame the organizers for this; it's symptomatic of how internet culture works (bootstrap a meme, leverage resulting audience attention) and of the difficulties of organizing in a representative democracy context.

The ideal would be some model legislative proposals or some sort of nominally nonpartisan congressional committee with teeth along the lines of the Church committee in the 1970s (but even that ran into significant opposition at the time, being accused of treason and so on by the usual self-appointed superpatriots.

The basic problem is threefold.

1. The United States has a strong economic and strategic interest in preserving the international status quo or moving it in a more liberal direction (qua trade, promulgation of legal mutualism and so forth). Naturally, maintaining this position is going to involve extensive intelligence-gathering activities.

2. While this is often denigrated as a form of neo-colonialism, there's a fair degree of evidence that it results in better overall outcomes globally; were it to withdraw and leave a power vacuum, that space would be occupied by less scrupulous actors. Although the EU is second to the US in economic power (or even first by some measures) the EU is ineffective at projecting power and less able to provide security to its allies, both practically and politically (consider the rather milquetoast response to the protests in Ukraine, for example). For examples of the alternative, consider the autocratic and cynically populist governance of the Russian Federation or the relative opacity of Chinese jurisprudence.

3. Given the ever-lower barriers to collection and aggregation of data resulting from technology, private actors are able to accumulate and leverage huge pools of data, from Facebook to credit bureaux and consumer intelligence brokers such as Axciom. Until people are willing tolerate limits on private sector activity (and thus financial opportunity) similar to those resulting from EU data protection laws or the like, it's simply not realistic to expect that government should limit itself to technological capabilities that are less than the private sector or even abstain from aggregating publicly available data. This would just result in a a different kind of power vacuum. For all its faults, government is procedurally accountable to the citizenry, whereas private entities are accountable only to shareholders, and shareholdings are fungible in a way that citizenship is not.

As I've said a few times before, I think the US needs a movement for a privacy amendment to the constitution that spells out the scope and limitations of individual's control over their personal information, as opposed to the hand-wavey and contentious judicial interpretations we operate under at present. Putting this in place is a decade-long project, at minimum.

This is a worthy cause, but I find it ironic that the page has so many links to social networks that engage in spying on a scale comparable to that of the NSA. And while the NSA was probably just collecting the information we know that Google and Facebook actually use it.

Saying that those services give you a choice not to use them is throwing sand in our face. We know that Facebook and maybe Google, too, collect information about people not using their services. They also track their users' behavior when they're not expecting it. Worst of all is the fact that most people don't fully grasp the deal those companies offer: they give you free services in exchange for your private information.

This reminds me of that recent South Park episode where Cartman goes to investigate the NSA while tweeting his every thought[1]. This kind of fight requires serious thinking about privacy in this day and age. Sure, it's bad that a government spies on people, but it isn't any better that some of the world's most powerful corporations trick people into being spied on and into becoming unknowing informants on their friends. This is a very serious and very broad issue. Let's not make it just about the NSA.

[1]: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s17e01-let-go-...

To me this looks pretty much like Don Quixote's fight against windmills. Pointless, and won't really accomplish anything. Do you think the NSA, or whoever else for that matter, would actually care about people changing their profile picture or blacking out their website for a day? I believe protest doesn't accomplish much, specifically if done in a frivolous way. This is extremely frivolous.

> Do you think the NSA, or whoever else for that matter, would actually care

What made you think that's the point of this? This isn't about convincing the NSA of anything.

This sentence from the page pretty much hints at that:

> Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

Let's not forget that the NSA revelations are at the base of the mass surveillance outrage.

Clearly part of addressing mass surveillance would be to get changes at the NSA, but they are not the ones we need to make listen. Politicians are. US politicians who support and fund the NSA or doesn't voice their opposition. Politicians all over the world who allow their own surveillance organizations to be complicit, or who are not putting enough pressure on the US government to make it a foreign policy problem instead of merely a small nuisance.

And the large parts of the public who are not yet aware, or not aware enough to care.

The NSA is at the very end of a very long list of targets, each one of which may help put pressure on and/or have some power over the next target on the list.

I would "fight back" but I have a job.

Who am I kidding? I would not fight back even if I did have the time. Even if this were not horseshit. I would be dicking around with golang and flagging banal questions on StackExchange.

I appreciate your candor, sir/madam.

It's long past time that we channel our outrage into political action on this issue.

Excellent. What's the definition of insanity? Here's the Reddit discussion. Have at it!


Everyone will just re-elect the same congressmen and senators who got us here. Because theirs is different, of course.

If it is your intention to assume that nothing can get any better so we should just sit back and do nothing, then would you do me a favor? Would you please start doing nothing BEFORE posting the "it's all hopeless" comment. From your point of view it won't make any difference, but from the point of view of those of us who think that one can (on the whole) make (slow) progress by speaking up and taking action it will make a difference.

Yeah, let's fight online surveillance through facebook, google and the other NSA-approved social media.

How about instead we save some energy and invest it in better encryption and security?

You ask some computer-politicians to do real research and tech-work? NO WAY!

So facebook and google are now "NSA-approved" how can I get my products and services NSA approved?

You can't. It's an invite-only elite club.

Or do both!

What are the specific goals and modes of action for this protest? (e.g. laws to pass, laws to vote against, people to fire etc.)

Apparently it's post a banner on a website, register on facebook, google+ and twitter to post there that you are against surveillance.

A nice attempt at sorting out people through self-selection who are to be put on a special surveillance list.

Well, if you're politically opposed to the NSA's surveillance they probably already know, so it won't make much difference whether you've revealed support for this campaign. The bigger problem is that the campaign seems entirely vacuous. What exactly are we doing to fight back? Complaining a little bit online? The NSA must be running scared.

The often mentioned quote from B. Franklin (reproduced in the linked site) about "any society" giving up a little liberty for a little security and deserving neither is I think quite funny, because giving up liberty in exchange for security is the very definition of society.

Society is not about liberty; it's about control, surveillance, obedience, in exchange from keeping aliens at bay.

If everyone's my brother I don't need "society", because there are no aliens.

On the other hand, if every brother is a potential or covert alien, then I need a very intense system of control.

I'm not sure it's possible to have society without surveillance; they are sides of the same coin.

I think it's quite funny because like so many quotation-on-image internet memes, it's not what Franklin actually wrote.

This is the actual line:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."


Some other misattributed variations are here:


Society is a bunch of people gathering togheter because they are happier that way. If everybody is your brother, you won't be any better living alone in a field.

Yeah, other people always come with some kind of surveilance and disagreement, but that's a consequence, not the goal.

> Society is a bunch of people gathering together because they are happier that way.

How is that? You're born in a given society (country) and usually you never change societies, so there's no choice involved.

You can move to some non-urbanized area, and just cut communications with anybody else. (Yes, you can not completely cut away because of taxes, but you can to a huge degree.)

Almost nobody likes that option.

It's nice to see that important national issues have been reduced to social media campaigns. It's going to take more than Twitter messages and Reddit comments to take down the NSA though.

Something tells me that Aaron would be pissed that they're using his name this way. Aaron got arrested for actually fighting for openness, not tweeting about how he supports openness. If you want to fight the NSA, write your member of Congress. Join a protest. Leak info about what the government is doing. But please don't just post messages to your Facebook so you can feel like you're doing something.

[reposting this from another comment for visibility]

Ever since the NSA business leaked, I've been thinking about this problem. It took me a few months to wrap my head around all the crazy stuff that's been going on but I've started building some systems that I think might have a chance of helping out.

"Call Congress Now"- using Twilio, you can call Congress folk from your browser (for free).


Here are some Congress people who some consider are doing some shady stuff: http://www.callcongressnow.org/profile/F000062 http://www.callcongressnow.org/profile/L000174

But it's pretty hard to get the word out about websites like that. In a sense, nobody passively cares enough to call Congress. Only when the Congress folks do something that brings about outrage do people care enough to really pick up the phone (or click the twilio button, as it were). So I built the /u/CongressionalHound, a bot on reddit that hunts for mentions of current sitting members of Congress in submitted articles and displays information about them in the comments:


If you are a mod and want me to run the bot on your subreddit, PM the bot and I'll have it saunter on over and get to work. Slowly putting the bot on subreddits that give me permission or invite me to. My hope is that when articles about the NSA, or Obamacare, or the shutdown, or or or any big political issue comes up, that the bot will channel people towards getting in touch with their representatives and senators and effectively voicing their opinions.

Both of these are prototypes and there are major known bugs in both, but I think they can serve as examples of systems that could help citizens better impact their government through the power of the internet.

That bot is amazing!

Thank you! It's actually really dumb. Like, it's piping out to Readability and then just searching for capitalized pairs of words and then pounding a hash-map for look ups of Congress folks. MVP or something right?


How in the world is this "fighting back"?

Did I just skim over a paragraph somewhere on the site? All I see are banners, social media buttons, and a mask to put over your profile picture.

Raising awareness is fine and good, but thanks to Ed Snowden (who fought back in a much more effective way than by changing his gravatar), we already know that the NSA are spying on everyone, everywhere.

They stuck a Ben Franklin quote on there. It's a good quote. But where are the public officials running on a pro-surveillance platform? Whose door should we beat down while carrying our torches and pitchforks? That battle is lost several times a second when we voluntarily step into the body scanner at the airport that both the TSA and the terrorists know doesn't catch everything.

I'm not ready to start a revolution. And I just don't feel like anything less than a revolution will do, at this point. The only thing I can do is leave -- and hope that my new home isn't doing the same thing or worse without having been caught yet.

But this sucks. I hate feeling powerless. So I guess I'm off to post some witty anti-NSA propaganda to my Facebook page!

How about companies pledge to never hire NSA staff? Close the accounts of and ban surveillance supporters and their families?

Calling upon what a dead person would have done if not dead is something I have a hard time getting behind. But using facebook, google + and twitter to fight back against surveillance made it clear that this whole initiative is a joke and a bad poorly executed one.

I wish those guys luck in trying to push against government surveillance towards private for profit transnational corporations' surveillance, but there is no way I would support this kind of initiative.

Either you fight against surveillance or you don't, but fighting some form of surveillance and promoting another is not fight against surveillance.

Hmmm this is all well and good, but what do we expect NSA and GCHQ to do instead?

I don't especially like them or what they do, but we need them... I'm also surprised at the massive backlash and the revelatory nature of the Snowden leaks... I was expecting that NSA and GCHQ would engage in precisely these kinds of activities - its exactly what they are there for - I am surprised that anyone ever had any different expectations, but clearly a large majority did.

Are we suggesting that society has come far enough that we can do without espionage altogether?

We don't expect, need or want them to go anywhere near as far as they do. This was not done with our mandate and in a democratic society it damn well needs it.

They are there to keep an eye on suspected bad guys, not to watch us all constantly.

What they can do is fire 75% of their staff and stick to the rules.

It's a valid question: DO we still need things left over from the Cold War? BAOR no longer exists for example. Pretty soon we'll have no tank regiments.

And in the US, as posted on here the other day, the FBI is responsible for national security now.

More-specific investigations to uncover actual threats, real court oversight, and making sure that protections written into law are enforced during data collection.

If GCHQ and the NSA were actually dedicated to securing our networks that would be a start, e.g. helping businesses and individuals migrate to SELinux or something.

Feb 11th is after the SOTU, where Obama will announce what will in effect be the only changes we're likely to see. Any attempt to influence policy should come before that.

We did consider this very, very carefully. Our conclusion was that any reforms that Obama announces are very unlikely to result in meaningful change, and that legislation will still be necessary. Had we set the date before the SOTU, our activism would have concluded with no way to respond to his proposals.

So, what's your plan re: pushing legislation? Have you identified who in Congress will serve as a champion for your cause? Are there any lists of specific demands that any good legislation would address? Changing your avatar on Facebook, Twitter, or G+ won't sway anyone.

If your activism is planned to conclude on a date certain, whether before or after the SOTU, its not going to do anything.

What you really want is to create an ongoing movement both with a visible effect early enough to influence others reaction to what is announced in the SOTU, and which continues so as to itself respond to whatever is proposed in the SOTU.

To me its obvious that the current paradigm with a central government that has a monopoly on force and businesses competing against each other with a mandate to increase profits is outdated. I think we need to experiment with rethinking fundamental societal structures in a way that incorporates our current science and technology.

You lost me at "(and [spying on] everyone else too)". Spying on other countries is what the NSA is built to do, and it's for good reason. Every country does it, that's how geopolitics work. The issue people have here is spying on US Citizens, which is not what they're supposed to be doing.

Poppycock. Give me some "good reasons" why spying on the private lives of citizens of ally countries is not an act of terrorism?

> Give me some "good reasons" why spying on the private lives of citizens of ally countries is not an act of terrorism?

Because terrorism is the use of violence or threat of violence directed at civilian populations or otherwise outside the generally accepted norms of warfare to effect political change, and spying, while it may support the use or threat of violence, is, in and of itself, neither the use nor threat of violence.

Well, is blackmail a kind of violence? (honest question)

Doesn't really matter, because as with violence (or “other forms of violence”, if you prefer), spying isn’t blackmail, even if it might be used to support blackmail.

Spying is as good a "threat of blackmail" as one can get.

You know what would be better than putting a banner on a site and tweeting your "outrage"? Giving a buck to the EFF. Or two. Do that other stuff if it makes you feel better, but if you want to make a difference, call a congressman, and give a pittance to people who specialize in doing the same.

I am probably the only person who is bothered that this sounds like a deniable call to violent action. "BE CREATIVE"

edit: to be clearer - the issue is that we have left violent action open as an option and it isn't hard for a few people to take that option. Is this what we want politics to be?

You're probably the only person who is bothered, because you are probably the only person who can see anything remotely resembling a "call to violent action" in something as milquetoast as the nonsense we're discussing.

I see what the GP is talking about though, and would probably explain it as "fight" being used as a malapropism, not as a rallying ethic. That is, calling something "fighting" which is pretty much the furthest thing from it, rather than exhorting people to fight in whatever way they deem fit.


Edit since parent updated: "Be creative" is just too broad and if you want to imply the authors are saying "be violent if you want" then it's what YOU are implying, not them. Besides, I have yet to see a Internet protest that turned out violent because of the protesters. Not in a large scale at least.

So reading "be violent" where it says "be creative" is a long stretch (thus my initial response).

Now, if the authors should be liable if anything violent happens because they did not add "please don't be violent", then this a whole different (and larger) discussion about all the crazy things happening in the judicial system (that would allow someone to be sued). At the end, people are liable for their own acts.

Let's leave this discussion for when/if they actually are explicit about using violence, instead of trying to read between the lines so early (and with so little information to base it on).

We begin therefore where they are determined not to end, with the question whether any form of democratic self-government, anywhere, is consistent with the kind of massive, pervasive, surveillance into which the Unites States government has led not only us but the world.

This should not actually be a complicated inquiry.




Why would dead links help?

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history.

Funny ... no mention of CISPA, which interestingly was not heavily protested like SOPA and PIPA were, is reputed to be worse, and while initially passed in November 2011 was passed again in April 2013 after SOPA and PIPA were defeated.

Thankfully, it never passed the Senate ... but I wouldn't call that a "win" compared to the victory over SOPA / PIPA.


You need a law or a bill. And then the protest (and ensuing momentum if companies are incentivized to blackout their sites because it's strongly in their interests) pushes the lever for lawmakers.

Let's try to be positive about this.

Presumably the NSA's capacities are limited by its budget. Presumably its budget is limited by political considerations. Presumably a popular social networking campaign, however lame, will be impact on politicians' willingness to lavish funds upon it.

I'd rather everybody involved set up and promoted GPG instead, but that probably isn't going to happen.

You lost me by leading with a big picture of Aaron.

I'd prefer to see "The Day We Fight Back" be used to promote mass adoption of stronger security measures and encryption.

And some alternative to centralized social networks.

Ironically, at the moment the link to their own Privacy Policy page is broken. (I notified them by email.)


If I join this wont they go out of their way to spy on me?


And if you don't join it, they'll also go out of their way to spy on you.

I sincerely doubt they give a shit.

I'm so angry I put a banner on my website. While I greatly support the cause, I doubt the effects this "online protest" will have.

Hopefully someday we can use this to help: http://bit.ly/blibonline

I'm on a shitty airport connection and I tried to load the page 3 times before I was able to read content. Just saying.

I wonder whether they obtained proper license to use a frame from "The Big Lebowski" for their internet meme

Great idea, but does it have to be so American? We're getting spied on over here in the UK too.

Unsurprisingly, none of the PRISM gang companies support this initiative.

We can't forget the corporate culpability in this matter...

It bothers me that otherwise intelligent people are taking so long to realize that ubiquitous surveillance is never going away.

I would have exterminated humanity in the 80's if it hadn't been for ubiquitous surveillance.


So, something like this:

  People: "Stop spying on us!"
     NSA: "Well, we kind of want to, but if you insist.."
  People: "Alright then, cool."
    (NSA calmly continues doing whatever they damn well please)

Here's an alternative version:

  People: "Stop spying on us!"
     NSA: "Fuck you, peasants."
  People: "No, fuck you! We'll write to some thoroughly
           corrupt sociopaths and they'll stop your spying
           because they care about our well-being!!"
     NSA: "Good luck with that."
    (NSA calmly continues doing whatever they damn well please)
The actual problem is the existence of the NSA and governments in the first place. They're not accountable to us for anything they do, until there's a revolution, and then the cycle just starts over. The real solution is to stop believing that anyone has the right to rule anyone else.

>The actual problem is the existence of the NSA

>and governments

That escalated quickly.

Sure, but it's true.

Think about it for a moment. They operate in complete secrecy behind the scenes. You have no power over them, but they have massive power over you. Clearly, neither the NSA nor the government are accountable to you or people in general because you simply have no recourse against any injustice they commit against you. If the government imprisons you without due process, for example, you're effectively supposed to complain about it to the very same government, which will then.. punish itself?

In what alternate universe is this a good arrangement?

>They operate in complete secrecy behind the scenes. You have no power over them, but they have massive power over you.

We vote these people into office. We have the power. The government is people - just people we've decided get extra power so they can get things done.

Please, please, please don't ever forget this. The moment you start thinking of the government as some impenetrable adversary, you've already lost. Being politically active is how change happens, not falling into the dems-vs-republicans-vs-whoever trap of "the other guy is bad".

The government is us.

When you vote, you actually give credibility to, and thus your implicit acceptance of the results, whether or not they are in your favour.

You play the game that is stacked 100% in their favour, and you cannot expect to win. Your vote or that of even 1 million (or even 10 million) other people will not change 1 single micron of the overall outcome. Think of all the well-intentioned people in the past, say 100 years or so, that in all good conscience cast their vote, just hoping to make that change. Did that positive change happen? Of course not, look where we are.

Bow out and make other changes to protect yourself; voting is the least effective use of your time.

There hasn't been a large-scale violent uprising in the United States for almost 150 years. The US and state governments of today have continuity from that point.

In that time period legitimate democratic processes have brought about the 40-hour work week; the abolition of child labor; substantial improvements in the legal rights and protection of women, racial minorities, and sexual minorities; regulatory systems to protect the purity and wholesomeness of food and the efficacy and safety of medication; programs like Social Security and Medicare which have virtually eliminated the kind of wide-scale destitution of the elderly that previous generations had seen; environmental protections for water and air; and a host of other reforms enacted for the popular interest and by popular demand.

Many other democratic nations in the world can tell the same story about the 20th century as well.

These achievements are all incomplete and flawed, and obviously there have been many outrages, but modern democracies are by and large the most humane, least violent, and most responsive governments in human history.

> modern democracies are by and large the most humane, least violent, and most responsive governments in human history.

That's because their tax cattle is still docile. You see, as long as people remain obedient and calm, governments don't need to get violent. That's the way outright slavery works too: a slave-master only whips his slaves when they resist him.

Make no mistake though, governments are not your friends. They don't give a fuck about your well-being, and they're not here to help humanity. It's the exact opposite.

> We vote these people into office. We have the power.

That's exactly the way they want you to think. To imagine you can affect "policy" through writing something on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box. See how absurd that idea sounds when put like that?

-But that's exactly how it's supposed to work. You realize that a piece of paper with text on it doesn't actually compel any politician to do anything for you or anyone else. They're still very much free to break all their campaign promises, which they invariably do, and they'll be doing whatever they want until it's time to tell you what you want to hear again.

Elections are a sham. A distraction meant to give us the illusion that we have a say in anything. Again, the real and only solution is to stop believing that anyone has the right to rule over anyone else. In other words, stop believing in "political authority": http://spot.colorado.edu/~huemer/book3.htm

Over here in reality, it works pretty much as you say in your first paragraph (sans snark). Did you forget the popular outcry that got SOPA killed? Did you forget all of the positive things that have happened over the past few decades?

Enjoy being a defeatist apathetic loon, I guess.

> Did you forget the popular outcry that got SOPA killed?

Did you really think they'd just shrug and give up their plans then? "Oh well, the people don't actually want SOPA. I guess we'll just have to give up on our plans", huh? :P

Do you think they were trying to pass SOPA because people wanted it? Did it look like they stopped there? CISPA, anyone? -Who knows what came after CISPA? -Did anyone even notice? Did they pass some comparable liberty/privacy -raping bullshit already, while the world's people weren't looking?

Do you think it everything is alright when your government is stealthily passing draconian legislation left and right, and a massive public outcry is required to even delay the process for a while?

> Enjoy being a defeatist apathetic loon, I guess.

Look, it doesn't take a genius to realize that governments really aren't looking out for you, or any other ordinary person for that matter. You just have to open your eyes to what they're actually doing. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions most definitely don't benefit the people.

If reading that (or my other posts) makes you "think" (using the word loosely) that I'm some tinfoil-hat nutcase, enjoy being a clueless, statist sheep then, I guess. Feel free to just sit by and watch as a police state engulfs you and your family.

> They operate in complete secrecy behind the scenes.

That's not an intrinsical property of governments. In fact, it's even possible to prove that a government is transparent (I doubt any current one is), you just need to publish all the money transfers.

The people in charge do not want transparency, because that would interfere with what they want to do: live large at everyone else's expense, wield power and influence, and take bribes. This is why there will never be government transparency.

"The Day We Fight Back" and there's facebook like-button on the page. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

Modifying websites is not "fighting back". Your time is wasted and meaningless and will not evoke change.

Meh. I wasn't all that surprised by the NSA revelations. I think Snowden is a traitor and the US government (like any government) has legitimate reasons to spy on people.

The problem with this "movement" is that it fails to make an argument for its beliefs. It's just pure group-think.

> Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

An NSA data mining robot reading my facebook wall is no more a threat to my freedom than Google reading my gmail. The threat comes from the abuse of that information: that some politician (or Google employee) has it out for me and blackmails me (or something like that). Maybe I'll get upset when we have evidence of that happening a bunch.

And though many people don't believe it anymore, there is in fact a real threat on the other side of this: there are actual terrorists in the world who want to kill Americans.

Now here's something I can't figure out: the very people up in arms about the NSA spying on us think that it's a great idea for the government to know all the most intimate details of my life via a government-run single-payer healthcare system.

Uncle Sam reading my latest tweet seems a whole lot less intrusive on my freedom than him telling me I must go to the doctor, get insurance, quit smoking, lose some weight, not eat or drink certain kinds of foods...

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