June 5, 2013 was when the world heard from Snowden. This year, it's your turn to speak out.
On June 5, 2013 the Guardian newspaper published the first of Edward Snowden's astounding revelations. The secret court order that conclusively showed that the US government was collecting the phone records of millions of innocent Verizon customers. It was the first of a continuous stream of stories that pointed out what we’ve suspected for a long time: that the world’s digital communications are being continuously spied upon by nation states with precious little oversight.
A year later, we're still learning about operations conducted globally by the United States and its closest allies in defiance of billions of people's fundamental freedoms. We've discovered that the US government has confidential systems in place to scoop up data from American Internet companies. We've learned that the British equivalent, GCHQ, has taken millions of snapshots of Webcam images as they eavesdrop on the Internet backbone. We've seen encryption standards undermined, an entire country's telephone conversations recorded, and five billion records of phone locations globally recorded per day.
June 5, 2014 marks a new year: a year that will not just be about listening to the inside story of mass surveillance, but a new year of fighting back. We know you were listening on June 5th last year. Now it's time for you to tell others. Tell your family and friends. Tell the politicians you trust to stand up to their own out-of-control spies. Tell the companies to fix the security holes and business practices that make them a honey-pot of personal information for the intelligence services to plunder. Help the free software community to develop decentralized end-to-end Internet infrastructure.
What else can you do? Here’s some of what’s happening around the first Snowden anniversary.
The international coalition behind the Necessary and Proportionate Principles against unchecked surveillance will be holding actions in their own countries from Colombia to the European Union.
United Kingdom: On June 7, the Don't Spy On Us Coalition will be expanding their battle to stop GCHQ spying on Britons and they will be holding a major public event in central London, with The Guardian as hosts. Speakers include Cory Doctorow, Alan Rusbridger, Bruce Schneier, Neil Tennant, Shami Chakribarti, Lord Richard Allan, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Claude Moraes MEP, Ian Brown, Caspar Bowden, Gabrielle Guillemin, and more. You can join the coalition here.
United States (and anywhere that weakened Internet security has compromised your privacy): We're taking technical steps to take our privacy back with Reset The Net. Thousands have already pledged to take steps to protect their freedom from government mass surveillance. We're going to push for companies to add government-proof security to their sites and apps, and we've pledged to spread NSA-resistant privacy tools to our friends and neighbours. Access's Encrypt All The Things is another initiative that will be ramping up the pressure on Internet platforms to lock down their data against spying on June 5th.
Canada: In Canada, OpenMedia.ca and the Protect Our Privacy Coalition will be ramping up their campaign for effective legal measures to protect every resident of Canada from government surveillance. OpenMedia.ca will be supporting the Reset The Net initiative, and encouraging use of encryption as another way people can speak out about mass surveillance. They will also be intensifying efforts aimed at Canadian MPs and at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging him to take responsibility for his government’s actions and defend online privacy.
Chile and Latin America: On June 5th, ONG Derechos Digitales will make a series of announcements: Starting with the https://derechosdigitales.org website, which is now secured by SSL. Also, taking advantage of this increased security, the organization will launch a new legal assistance service on digital rights issues https://derechosdigitales.org/dudas. Finally, Derechos Digitales is also launching a “best practices” guide for people to exercise fundamental rights online, available here.
Mexico: A year after Snowden's leaks on mass surveillance from the NSA, the Mexican people are reasserting their fight for net neutrality, privacy and freedom of speech in their fierce opposition to President Enrique Peña Nieto's telecommunications bill, which would turn the Mexican Internet into an instrument of surveillance and control. Through the #DefenderInternet campaign, and the support from the French activist organization La Quadrature du Net, Mexican activists have developed a site that lets Mexicans call lawmakers to demand that they put human rights at the core of any new bill. SonTusDatos, another Mexican NGO, will be joining the fight in social media against mass surveillance.
Spain: In Barcelona, the Association for Progressive Communications is holding Take Back The Net, from June 4-5 where human rights activists and tech providers will join together to share knowledge on how surveillance affects them, and co-operate to teach the latest tools to the people who need them. You can join Take Back the Net online or off, or hold a CryptoParty in your own neighbourhood (as Snowden did in Hawaii back in 2012).
South America: In Colombia, the digital rights group Fundación Karisma will be bringing together journalists and security experts to create a new generation of tech-savvy researchers, who'll be able to protect their sources using a new generation of secure journalist tools.
Germany: Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. is organizing a demonstration in front of the Chancellery to demand that the government stops ignoring the mass surveillance of its citizens' communications (including Chancellor Merkel's cellphone). The civil rights group urges its government to take action in order to restore a secure communications infrastructure." And the German NGO, Digitalcourage, will take to the streets on a central square in the city of Bielefeld, promoting “A Bed for Snowden,” a joint campaign with Campact and the Whistleblower Network.
Ukraine: On June 6th, 7th and 8th, SHARE Defense will transform the Mezhyhirya residence—the former private residence of former Ukraine president, Viktor Yanukovych—into a knowledge-sharing platform. Activists will gather to share experiences and discuss issues related to freedom of speech, investigative journalism, digital security, and activism in the form of lectures, open discussions and workshops. At the event, SHARE Defense will present a new documentary about YanukovychLeaks together with a final analysis of the more than 200 documents that were discovered at the Mezhyhirya compound on February 22, following the end of the Yanukovych government and his abrupt departure.
Poland: The anniversary of the Snowden revelations coincides with the celebration of the 25 years since the fall of an authoritarian regime in Poland. On this occasion, President Obama is visiting Poland and meeting with many heads of states—including officials who were affected by the mass surveillance scandal carried out by the NSA. During Obama’s visit, the Panoptykon Foundation, a Polish NGO, has organized a user-generated campaign, urging people to welcome President Obama to Poland by vocalizing their thoughts on mass surveillance. Panoptykon is encouraging activists, journalists, and others around the globe to tweet pictures of themselves holding a piece of paper that says "Surveillance Is Not Freedom. Say it on the 4th of June." A week after the anniversaries, Panoptykon will also celebrate its fifth birthday with a series of privacy workshops dealing with email encryption and the basics of privacy and security online. A special cryptoparty will be held with the support of Warsaw Hackerspace.
Simon Davies, one of the pioneers of the global privacy movement, will be reporting how governments in several countries have responded to the Snowden revelations—and how they can do more.
Let us know how you’re fighting surveillance in your country, whether it’s on June 5th, or afterwards. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll spread the word.