Wednesday, October 16, 2013

War for the Web: To The Streets

Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, CIA, NSA, FBI. David and Goliath? Heroes and Tyrants? These situations are full of shades of gray. There is one thing transparently black and white, however; the Internet has placed the power of a surveillance state, and by extension the tools for tyranny, in government and corporate hands. We now know, definitively, that the NSA colludes with Verizon, AT&T and others to collect information about Americans, ostensibly to prevent terrorist attacks.

We may trust the leadership we have now, but by enabling these systems with so little oversight, we are forced to trust not only today's leadership, but every subsequent leader and administration that we have in this nation. This is not the system of checks and balances that this country was founded upon and sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.

The Internet has served as an enabler for all this surveillance. Few of us consider our privacy when we send an email or a message on Facebook or LinkedIn, but the fact is almost no consumer protections exist to ensure that our private messages are actually private. But it was not always this way and it does not have to be this way.

The Internet is simply a tool, and so whether it is used for ill or for good rests completely in our hands. War for the Web had the good fortune of sitting down with Aaron Swartz last summer to discuss these issues, his words illustrate the point precisely:

"There's sort of these two polarizing perspectives right? Everything is great; the Internet has created all this freedom and liberty and all this is fantastic. Or everything is terrible; The internet has created all these tools for cracking down and spying and controlling what we say. And the thing is both are true. The Internet has done both and both are kind of amazing and astonishing and which one will win out in the long run is up to us. It doesn't make sense to say, 'Oh, one is doing better than the other.' They're both true and it's up to us which ones we emphasize and which one's we take advantage of because they're both there and they're both always going to be there."

-Aaron Swartz, 2012 interview with War for the Web

The Internet is the most amazing tool we've ever had. It is up to us to ensure that it stays that way; if we do not weigh in, if we do not make our voices heard, we will not get the results that we want. It is time to get up and speak your mind. Please take a look at Fight for the Future's July 4th campaign and keep in mind that these freedoms won't exist unless we fight for them.

Take to the streets on July 4th for your 4th Amendment Rights!
Take to the streets to defend the Fourth Amendment.

The Restore the Fourth protests, organized initially on Reddit, are going to coincide with 4th of July celebrations. Bring friends with you, and spread the word. If you don't see one in your state, start one.

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