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We had to cut down Aaron's quote to hit the HN 2k character limit, but the full quote we originally intended to use was:

"[We defeated SOPA] because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom. They threw themselves into it. They did whatever they could think of to do."

Very much hoping the community will rally around and join us in this. In particular, startups and larger tech companies (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, etc.) don't get involved with this kind of activism easily. If you care about this issue and work at a tech company, you're the only ones who can exert pressure from within.

Those larger tech companies you mention are on the other side of the fence when it comes to surveillance and privacy.

And I'm not even talking about the accusations of complicity (or have we forgotten that was the opening salvo in the NSA revelations, followed by a boilerplate non-denial and an eery silence?), but the fact that these companies regularly violate privacy laws (at least outside the US) and lobby against privacy protection.

Especially for me as a non-American, the US government and US tech companies like Google and Facebook are two sides of the same coin.

Of course they (or their employees) don't get involved, and they shouldn't. That would be like Elsevier getting involved with supporting Open Access.

Put yourself in the shoes of a hypothetical progressive tech company. You receive a letter from the government asking you to copy all your network traffic to the NSA for analysis. Threatening serious jail time if you resist or reveal the existence of the letter.

Your lawyers say all that appears to be legal and legitimate, and informal discussions with other tech executives reveal that everybody in your industry does it and it's no big deal.

It takes a lot of courage to resist.

Now that the scope of the surveillance has been revealed, and it's become clear that most of the technology culture, and a big chunk of the general public, is on your side. And the risk of consequences like jail time is much less if you're no longer talking about the government's specific activities in your case, but things that have been published in major newspapers.

It suddenly becomes a lot easier to make a strong statement.

> Elsevier getting involved with supporting Open Access

That's not a fair comparison at all. Open access to scientific research would totally kill Elsevier's main revenue source. The main revenue source for e.g. Google or Verizon is customers, not the NSA. Surveillance reform wouldn't kill their primary business models.

I can not accept a "I had to follow orders" rationalization, especially from the giants like Google. It was routinely used by the Nazi officers at the Nuremberg Trials. They had orders, were "afraid of reprimand", and so they went along.

There's a moral conduct that is above paper orders. Each one of us decides how to act when we face a contradiction. Aaron, Snowden - they did one thing. Google, Facebook - did another.

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