To mark the one-year anniversary of the first reporting based on information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 5, 2013, privacy advocates, organizations, and technology companies all over the world on Thursday are participating in 'Reset The Net'—an online day of action in which participants pledge to take real steps to protect online freedoms and fight back against mass surveillance.
"We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance."
"Don't ask for your privacy," sounds the call issued by the campaign. "Take it back."
Coordinated by a broad coalition of policy organizations and activist groups, and initiated by Fight For the Future, 'Reset The Net' calls on websites, app developers, organizations, and individual internet users to promote what they call "privacy packs" so that people everywhere can have better access to online privacy and encryption tools.
On Wednesday, as a way to show its support for the day, internet giant Google announced new end-to-end encryption methods for its widely used Gmail service.
Websites, tech companies, and advocacy organizations of all stripes—including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Dreams and scores of others—have all signed on and pledged to improve their privacy protections for their members and users.
As just one example, Josh Levy, of media reform group Free Press, described what actions his group is taking in a blog post on Wednesday:
We’ve removed every third-party tracker from our websites. The standard Facebook and Twitter buttons that you find across the Web — the ones those companies use to track your surfing behavior whether or not you’re actually logged in to their services — are gone. In their place are buttons that let you preserve your privacy while you share our stuff.
In that same spirit we’ve removed Google Analytics from our site. While the service is helpful in telling us where our Web traffic comes from, it tracks your every move after you leave our properties. We find that behavior too intrusive. We’re now using Piwik, the free and open-source Web analytics software that respects the privacy of Internet users.
And Snowden himself released the following statement in support of the day and its mission:
One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives — no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.
Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations.
We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.
Join us on June 5th, and don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.
Other participants were sharing their support on Twitter using the #resetthenet hashtag: