Tag Archives: eff

Today, we fight back against mass surveillance

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
– Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

But whatever our differences may have been in the past, we strongly agree that the dragnet collection of millions of Americans’ phone records every day — whether they have any connection at all to terrorism — goes far beyond what Congress envisioned or intended to authorize. 
More important, we agree it must stop.
 – Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)  & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.), Co-sponsors of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R.3361, S. 1599),  The Case for NSA Reform

If I did the code right, you should be seeing a big old banner at the bottom of this page, encouraging you to contact your representatives in government and demand an end to the NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance.

From EFF:

Since June, ongoing revelations about the NSA’s activities have shown us the expanding scope of government surveillance. Today is the day people around the world are demanding an end to mass spying.

A broad coalition of organizations, companies, and individuals are loudly voicing their stance against unwarranted mass spying—over 6,000 websites have joined together today to demand reform. EFF stands by millions of users—represented by groups like Demand Progress, ACLU, PEN, and Access as well as companies like Google, Twitter, Mozilla, and reddit—to reform governmental collection of innocent users’ information.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the Internet as a political force make waves in Washington. From our defeat of the Internet censorship bill SOPA to our battles over CISPA, TPP, and patent reform, history has shown that we can activate our networks to beat back legislation that threatens our ability to connect, as well as champion bills that will further our rights online.

We can win this. We can stop mass spying. With public opinion polls on our side, unprecedented pressure from presidential panels and oversight boards, and millions of people speaking out around the world, we’ve got a chance now to change surveillance policy for good.

Last year, we were presented with a new opportunity—an opportunity in the form of leaks that showed us the truth about deeply invasive surveillance programs around the world. This is the year we make good on that opportunity. Let’s ensure that sacrifices made by whistleblowers and risks taken by brave journalists were not done in vain.

Join us in fighting back. We’ve laid out below how you can speak out against mass spying.

Calling Congress takes just five minutes and is the most effective action you can take right now to let your elected officials know that mass surveillance must end.

Here’s what you should say:

I’d like Senator/Representative __ to support and co-sponsor H.R. 3361/S. 1599, the USA Freedom Act. I would also like you to oppose S. 1631, the so-called FISA Improvements Act. Moreover, I’d like you to work to prevent the NSA from undermining encryption standards and to protect the privacy rights of non-Americans.

Outside the US? Take action now.

Mass spying affects all of us worldwide. Demand an end to mass surveillance by signing the 13 Principles petition.

Please, take a few minutes and make a phone call. I’m sure that you, like me, feel cynical and disempowered (especially here in California, where our completely corrupt and useless senator Dianne Feinstein has become one of the NSA’s most vocal and ardent defenders, even though she’s supposed to be providing “oversight” in the senate), but this is not a fight that we’re going to win by sitting down and shutting up. Quoting EFF again: “We can win this. We can stop mass spying. With public opinion polls on our side, unprecedented pressure from presidential panels and oversight boards, and millions of people speaking out around the world, we’ve got a chance now to change surveillance policy for good.”

I encourage you to read more at the Reddit blog, where they’ve put together a comprehensive and easy to understand rundown of what’s at stake, and what we know about NSA spying. Talk to your friends and your family, and let’s do whatever we can to restore our fundamental rights to privacy.


on the internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog

I mentioned this on Twitter, but as Twitter has grown and grown (congrats, Biz and Ev!) it's become very "in the moment" and not the best place to put very important things like this:

There's a page on Facebook that appears to be mine. The problem with this is that I don't use Facebook, and I don't want people to be mislead. (Ohh! Bold text! Wil must be serious!) 

This is not me. A casual observer could see this page and think it's legit, because there isn't anything on it that clearly identifies it as a fan page, or a parody page, or something like that. For all I know, it's well-intentioned and I'm overreacting, but I just can't take a chance with things like this. At the moment, it appears to be asking for donations to fight Alzheimer's, which is a noble cause, but if I stood back and let anyone claim to be me while asking for money – for anything – it could have really, really bad consequences. 

There is a fanpage, but I don't recall what the address is. I don't have anything to do with it, because I don't use Facebook at all, and I trust the former soapboxers who have taken care of it since it was created to maintain it.

I'm fairly sure that this fake page will be removed or at least forced to clarify that it isn't actually me (if the picture – which I think is pretty funny, by the way – didn't give it away) before too long, and I hate having to be a dick about stuff like this, but it's important to me that my identity (actual and professional) is protected.

Now, as long as I have your attention and I'm talking about Facebook: I think that Facebook is evil, guys. I believe that Facebook is making gazillions of dollars by exploiting its users, and Facebook doesn't give a shit about how its users feel about that. The only reason Facebook has made any changes to their laughable privacy policies recently is because the company was looking at legal action, and was in danger of losing money.

If you're a Facebook user, you should really understand exactly how much of your personal information you're giving up to play those games, and you should know exactly what those developers are doing with it. You should understand that Facebook, as a corporation, doesn't give a shit about your privacy, no matter what their press releases say.

EFF has some important and useful things about all social networks that you should read if you use any of them, but if you're a Facebook user, you should really read How to Get More Privacy From Facebook's New Privacy Controls.

Personally, I think you should delete your Facebook account and wait for Disapora to get going. I know that's unlikely, though, because Facebook has become a useful and convenient way to stay in touch with people you care about. But please, please consider the consequences of trading privacy for convenience, and think about this, from Newsweek:

If you really expect this company to suddenly become trustworthy, you’ve lost your mind. Over the past five years Facebook has repeatedly changed its privacy policy, always in one direction, and every time this happens, the same movie plays out. People complain. Facebook stonewalls, then spins, then pretends to be contrite, then finally walks things back—but only a little.

Whether you use Facebook or not isn't really my business, and I'm not getting all Dad Voice on you if you choose to use it, but I'm alarmed that Facebook is training an entire generation that personal privacy isn't as important as it truly is. If you use Facebook, please protect yourself, and remember that, on the Internet, nobody knows that you're a dog.