Here’s how we get our democracy back after #Ferguson

Urgent: Cops in Ferguson are strangling free speech. Take action now!
image

Dear Fight for the Future member,

For the past several nights I’ve been glued to the Internet watching livestreams and social media coming out of Ferguson, MO. It’s been heartwrenching, but has also reminded me why I care so much about Internet freedom: it allows for free speech and discussion like never before.

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos and photos: cops firing tear gas and concussion grenades into residential neighborhoods, threatening and arresting journalists at gunpoint, and brutally suppressing protesters standing with their hands in the air chanting, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”[1][2]

image

The images are frightening. But even more frightening is the reality that this type of crackdown could become commonplace, thanks to millions of dollars of Federal funding that incentivize police forces to resemble an invading army. It has to stop.

Technology should be used to amplify people’s voices, not silence them. As an organization that advocates for tech in the public interest, we felt we have a real role to play to make this stop.

Right now Congress is considering legislation that would demilitarize local police forces. Click here to tell your lawmakers to cut funding for the weapons of war used to suppress free speech.

I’ve seen this type of behavior from police before — after a quick poll we discovered 50% of the Fight for the Future team has been teargassed at demonstrations at one time or another. But this time the abuse has been so egregious that there have been calls from both left and right demanding to know: just how did it get this way?

The story goes a lot like the story of how we got into this mess with NSA surveillance. Defense contractors working their magic in Washington, DC got the Department of Homeland Security to start offering more than $30 billion in grants to local police departments for all kinds of crowd control “toys.”[3] They received even more weaponry through the 1033 transfer program that put military-grade weapons directly in the hands of local cops. [4] Defense contractors profit greatly off of this program, which has created a dangerous situation where local police are compelled to use what weapons they have on crowds of people expressing themselves.

image

The police violence in Ferguson brought this secretive history hurtling into view. Barack Obama and Rand Paul (neither of whom I’m a big fan of) have both made statements suggesting that police should not be silencing voices of dissent and brutalizing journalists with weapons of military occupation. [5][6] But talk is cheap. We need action right now.

Will you sign the petition? We have a path forward to end this tyranny. Here’s something concrete and meaningful that we can do right now to protect our right to dissent.

Despite the enforced media blackout, it’s been relatively easy to get breaking news out of Ferguson thanks to free and uncensored Internet. (Oh, except on Facebook, but that’s another story. [7]) Through livestreams, twitter, and various blogs, I’ve watched with my own eyes and saw a SWAT officer rip a press badge off of VICE News reporter Tim Pool, saying “this doesn’t mean shit” while separating “credentialed” reporters from citizen journalists. [8] I watched cops with submachine guns telling journalists to “separate themselves” from protesters and get in their “designated area.” [9][10]

Everybody wants to live in safe cities. Nobody likes getting mugged. But if we give our police free reign to buy the latest sub-lethal grenades, chemical weapons or surveillance gadgets the military industrial complex cooks up, it’s only a matter of time before they use them in terrible ways against people like us. If this goes unchecked, the next Ferguson will be a lot worse.

Tell your representatives to protect the 1st amendment and cut funding for police brutality.

We’ve learned all too well in the last year how dangerous technology can be when it’s used against us rather than for us. Now is our chance to make it clear that no government or corporation should be able to accumulate weapons and technology for the purpose of suppressing free speech and a free press.

It’s going to take a lot more than contacting Congress to dismantle the underlying injustices that have lead to the uprising and repression in Ferguson, but for the first time in a long time, we have a real chance to turn the tide on this issue, and make the world a safer place for when our children stand up to protest the things that they see wrong in the world.

For freedom online and off,
-Evan at Fight for the Future, with love from the whole team

image

P.S. While #Ferguson has definitely occupied some of my mind lately, it’s mostly just strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for the free and open Internet. It’s going to be a long road to justice, but the Internet gives us a chance. This article says a lot of things about Ferguson and the open Internet that I have been thinking but couldn’t have articulated so well. Very worth a read and a share.

If you’re feeling like you want to do more to support people on the ground in Ferguson speaking out in the face of overwhelming police violence, please donate to the bail fund that’s been set up for protesters there.


SOURCES (there’s a lot this time!)

[1] Bindrim, Kira. “Tear Gas Used as Protests Erupt in Ferguson, Missouri”. Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/another-night-curfew-ferguson-265154

[2] Crilly, Rob. ”Supporters rally for police officer who shot dead Michael Brown“. Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11040486/Supporters-rally-for-police-officer-who-shot-dead-Michael-Brown.html

[3] Priest, Dana and William Arkin. “Monitoring America”. Washington Post. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/monitoring-america/?hpid=topnews

[4] Mastio, David and Kelsey Rupp. “Pentagon weaponry in St. Louis County: Updated Column”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/08/13/ferguson-police-michael-brown-militarization-column/14006383/

[5] Paul, Rand. “Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police”. TIME. http://time.com/3111474/rand-paul-ferguson-police/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

[6] Obama, Barack. “Full Transcript: Obama’s remarks on Ferguson, Mo. and Iraq”. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/running-transcript-obamas-remarks-on-ferguson-mo-and-iraq/2014/08/18/ed29d07a-2713-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

[7] Tufekci, Zeynep. “What happens to #Ferguson affects Ferguson” https://medium.com/message/ferguson-is-also-a-net-neutrality-issue-6d2f3db51eb0

[8] Pool, Tim (Timcast). “Earlier tonight an officer ripped my Press patch from my vest in #Ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/501613406248771584

[9] Harris, Joe ‏(joeharris_stl). “Media being told to stay within designated area. #ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/joeharris_stl/status/501591311372541952

[10] Harris, Joe ‏(joeharris_stl). “Police asking all members of the media to please separate themselves. #Ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/joeharris_stl/status/501575223586852864

49 notes

Giveaway! Win a free Blackphone and protect yourself from dragnet surveillance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hey Fight for the Future friends and fans,

Here’s a little something new we’ve never tried before: a contest!

Our friends over at GSM Nation have been big supporters of our work for net neutrality, online privacy, and against Internet censorship, so we were stoked when they told us they were going to start carrying the Blackphone, a new android phone that was built with privacy in mind and comes bundled with trusted, easy to use encryption tools.

image

To help kick things off, we’re partnering with GSM Nation and mobile tech gurus Pocketnow to give away a brand new Blackphone as part of a free contest for our supporters!

All you have to do to enter is follow the three organizations on social media (you could always unfollow us after if you want, we won’t be offended! But then you’d miss out crucial info about keeping the Internet free and tips & tricks for guarding your privacy.) Also if you win, don’t worry, we’ll protect your privacy and only announce your name if you want us to.

So what’s the deal with the Blackphone? Well, here’s a few links to get you started:

Here at Fight for the Future we encourage everyone to take as many steps as possible to protect themselves from dragnet surveillance. We think everyone should be able to access the Internet, communicate, and express themselves without fear of government snooping or repression. We don’t often recommend specific products that people should or shouldn’t use — we think everyone should do their research, be skeptical, and be informed about their various options.

The Blackphone is not a perfect solution for 100% privacy (there may be no such thing for the vast majority of people) but it’s a huge leap forward for most of us, and provides meaningful protection from many types of mass government and corporate surveillance. So is this phone NSA-proof? Nah probably not. But if someone wants your data, this phone will make them work for it.

Here’s what I like about the Blackphone: it basically forces you to take steps to protect yourself, which is more important than you might think. I am probably the least technical member of the Fight for the Future team. When I joined the organization i could barely write a line of HTML, my role is as an activist. For me, anything that makes it easy and quick for me to protect my online privacy is huge.

GSM Nation sent me a Blackphone to try out, and the first thing it does when you turn it on is require you to set a PIN. I noted that it requires that pin to be at least 5 digits, i think all of my previous phones only allowed 4.

Then the phone prompts you to enable whole phone encryption. You can do this on other Android phones, but so many people like me would never think of it or get around to it or figure out how to do it. On the Blackphone, you press a button, plug in your phone and there you go. For someone like me, that’s critical. I would probably never encrypt my phone otherwise.

image

The Blackphone comes with apps that I was happy to see like SpiderOak (an alternative to Dropbox that uses zero-knowledge privacy, meaning the company doesn’t know what you’re storing so they can’t turn anything over to anyone) and the text and phone apps from Silent Circle. The phone also comes with Disconnect.me built in to allow for private browsing and blocking various trackers.

Again, like any privacy tool, the Blackphone has its limitations. If the NSA is looking directly at you they are probably going to be able to hack your phone. But they can’t hack everyone. Mass surveillance on the scale they’re conducting now is only possible because we leave ourselves so open to spying. There is safety in numbers. The more of us that use basic encryption tools like the ones Blackphone comes with, the safer we all are and the harder it is for governments to track, profile, and monitor innocent people, activists, and journalists. Don’t leave your personal life wide open, #GetSecure now.

Click here to go back to the top of this post and enter the contest to win a Blackphone!

image

###

Contest Legal details

  • Contest begins Monday, August 18, 2014 and runs through 12am EDT (4am GMT) Thursday, August 28, 2014. That’s midnight between Wednesday and Thursday, not Thursday and Friday, so don’t come complaining if you missed your chance to enter.

  • This is a global giveaway, open to anyone, anywhere.

  • Prize is one (1) Blackphone, SRP $629.

  • In order to be considered for entry, you’re going to need to follow Pocketnow, GSM Nation, and Fight for the Future on Twitter. You must abide by the rules spelled-out in the Rafflecopter widget to be eligible.

  • One (1) grand-prize winner will be selected from Rafflecopter’s randomized pool of entrants.

  • The winner will be announced next week, shortly after entries close. This post will be updated at that time to identify the winning entry.

17 notes

Hey!

Yesterday morning, two of us from Fight for the Future hand delivered our petition demanding that Facebook end its abusive practice of tracking web users even when they’re not on Facebook, and conducting psychological tests on users’ emotions. We walked in through the front door and dropped off a box including your signature and more than 135,000 others. 

Wanna see the look on this Facebook employee’s face when we showed up? Check it out.

But delivering these signatures are just the beginning. Our campaign helped generate massive attention on Facebook’s invasive policies, and now they’re in a whole new heap of trouble. 

Just last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook for criminal violations within its privacy policy. [2] In less than a week, more than 25,000 individuals have joined the Europe v. Facebook lawsuit. [3] If everyone who signed the petition opting out of Facebook’s creepy tracking system joins this lawsuit against them, we could force one of the most powerful companies on earth to listen to the public will. Wouldn’t that be a sweet victory? Let’s do it.

Click here to learn more about the class action lawsuit against Facebook and see if you can join.

No matter what happens next with Facebook, we’ll be continuing our work day and night to end both corporate and government surveillance and rally the Internet to defend freedom of expression and privacy. We’d like to keep you informed about these efforts, but if you ever want to unsubscribe, no worries! You can do so easily using the link at the bottom of all our emails.

Want to know more about Fight for the Future and our other campaigns? Check out http://fightforthefuture.org or follow us on Twitter for urgent updates: http://twitter.com/fightfortheftr

For a free and open Internet,
Kevin, Jeff, Evan, Tiffiniy, and Holmes
Fight for the Future

—-
1. Fight for the Future. “Facebook: Stop being a creep”. http://cms.fightforthefuture.org/facebookopt-out/
2. Micah Singleton. Daily Dot. “11,000 people sue Facebook over privacy violations” http://www.dailydot.com/technology/facebook-class-action-lawsuit/
3. Polly Mosendz. The Independent. “Class Action Privacy Lawsuit Against Facebook Gains 25,000 Members“. http://www.thewire.com/technology/2014/08/class-action-lawsuit-against-facebook-gains-25000-members/375679/

Hey!

Yesterday morning, two of us from Fight for the Future hand delivered our petition demanding that Facebook end its abusive practice of tracking web users even when they’re not on Facebook, and conducting psychological tests on users’ emotions. We walked in through the front door and dropped off a box including your signature and more than 135,000 others.

Wanna see the look on this Facebook employee’s face when we showed up? Check it out.

But delivering these signatures are just the beginning. Our campaign helped generate massive attention on Facebook’s invasive policies, and now they’re in a whole new heap of trouble.

Just last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook for criminal violations within its privacy policy. [2] In less than a week, more than 25,000 individuals have joined the Europe v. Facebook lawsuit. [3] If everyone who signed the petition opting out of Facebook’s creepy tracking system joins this lawsuit against them, we could force one of the most powerful companies on earth to listen to the public will. Wouldn’t that be a sweet victory? Let’s do it.

Click here to learn more about the class action lawsuit against Facebook and see if you can join.

No matter what happens next with Facebook, we’ll be continuing our work day and night to end both corporate and government surveillance and rally the Internet to defend freedom of expression and privacy. We’d like to keep you informed about these efforts, but if you ever want to unsubscribe, no worries! You can do so easily using the link at the bottom of all our emails.

Want to know more about Fight for the Future and our other campaigns? Check out http://fightforthefuture.org or follow us on Twitter for urgent updates: http://twitter.com/fightfortheftr

For a free and open Internet,

Kevin, Jeff, Evan, Tiffiniy, and Holmes

Fight for the Future

—-

1. Fight for the Future. “Facebook: Stop being a creep”. http://cms.fightforthefuture.org/facebookopt-out/

2. Micah Singleton. Daily Dot. “11,000 people sue Facebook over privacy violations” http://www.dailydot.com/technology/facebook-class-action-lawsuit/

3. Polly Mosendz. The Independent. “Class Action Privacy Lawsuit Against Facebook Gains 25,000 Members“. http://www.thewire.com/technology/2014/08/class-action-lawsuit-against-facebook-gains-25000-members/375679/

30 notes

Press Release: Fight for the Future delivers 135,000 signatures to Facebook demanding an end to abusive privacy practices

image

Fight for the Future Director of Code Activism Jeff Lyon hand delivering the signatures to Facebook. More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook opt them out of their new tracking system.  (This photo is available for use by press.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org
Evan Greer: 978-852-6457
Kevin Huang: 510-648-5048

More than 135,000 Internet users call on Facebook to end intrusive tracking, data collection, and psychological experiments that violate users’ basic rights

MENLO PARK, CA — Just one week after media reports that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit that has already attracted more than 25,000 plaintiffs, activists from the digital rights group Fight for the Future showed up at Facebook’s corporate offices in California yesterday to hand deliver a box containing tens of thousands of petition signatures protesting the company’s abusive practices of tracking Internet users even when they are not on Facebook and conducting psychological experiments without consent.

More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook remove them from the new tracking system, which was revealed in June. Fight for the Future called upon the company to heed their customer’s wishes and remove the signatories from the tracking system in question. The group also issued the following demands to Facebook in a cover letter included with the signatures:

We demand that Facebook:

  • End its intrusive tracking system that taps into the web activity of Internet users worldwide.

  • Inform the people affected by the psychological experiment that they were participants.

  • Refrain from conducting any similar studies and make it clear in the terms of service, data use policy, and privacy policy that these types of experiments are prohibited without informed consent.

  • Disclose if any other similar experiments have been or are being conducted.

“With everything we’ve learned in the past year about the ways those in power have been abusing the Internet to invade our privacy, it’s no wonder that Facebook users are speaking out in droves demanding more transparency and accountability from a company that holds such a massive amount of personal information,” said Evan Greer, of Fight for the Future. “The public has spoken, companies that ignore the growing cry for privacy should only expect user protests to intensify. We are heartened to hear that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit for their practices — the signatures that we are delivering today should be seen as further evidence of this company’s lack of concern for its users basic rights.”

The petitions that Fight for the Future delivered were launched in June in response to news reports exposing the extent of Facebook’s abusive practices. The signatures are a rejection of Facebook’s ad network expansion of their tracking system to collect web history and app data from all Internet users inside and outside Facebook. In addition, the privacy advocates also point to the June public announcement of psychological experiments conducted on 700,000 Facebook users without their informed consent. Facebook’s experiments were also revealed by Forbes to have breached its own user agreement, which was only changed to include the right to conduct research experiments four months after they were completed.

This is not the first time Facebook has run into trouble for its expansive corporate surveillance.  In 2011, the FTC ruled against the company for deceiving its users about what data it was sharing with the public, third party applications, and advertisers.

“Everyone should have the ability to use the Internet to express themselves freely. It’s not only a human rights issue but it’s fundamental for democracy and freedom of press,” added Greer, “overly invasive corporate practices like Facebook’s tracking system undermine the privacy of the web, and have a chilling effect on free speech. Facebook needs to do the right thing and start listening to their users — and in the meantime anyone concerned with privacy should move away from centralized services and toward services that are built to respect users’ human rights”

image

Campaign Manager Kevin Huang with Jeff Lyon outside Facebook’s corporate headquarters with 135,000 petition signatures. (This photo is available for use by press.)

###

97 notes

Censorship might be dead. Here’s why.

Dear Fight for the Future member,

Imagine how awful it would be if your favorite websites were blocked by your government. And if, no matter how tech-savvy you were, every tool or trick you used to escape censorship was blocked in a matter of months.

That’s what life is like for China’s entire population of 1.3 billion people. In the country that produces 90% of the world’s smartphones, you can’t even reach YouTube – and the government shuts down anti-censorship tools as soon as they become popular.

But now, there’s a new hope in the fight against censors: Lantern.

Lantern is an app that anyone can run to fight censorship. When you run it, you join a global network: If your Internet is uncensored, you *give* uncensored access to others. If your Internet is censored, you can *get* uncensored access via someone else.

Can you take one step right now that will help thousands break free from Internet censorship? Download and install Lantern!

Lantern’s features make it really hard to block. It disguises its traffic and bounces it through popular, costly-to-censor services. It also builds a giant cloud of volunteer proxies, using a “six degrees of separation” trick to find friends of friends to proxy through, increasing the number of internet addresses involved and making it impractical for censors to block every one. But to make this work, we need thousands of people (you!) to download Lantern and run it.

Sometimes the Internet wins by banding together as a community. Sometimes we win through clever technical tricks. This time, the problem requires both: we need to come together around tools like this to get a victory.

Lantern is free, open source, and just takes a minute. Can you install Lantern and help beat China’s censors?

Once you install it, you forget it’s there. I’ve been running Lantern for months now with no issues. Please do install it now!

Sincerely,

Holmes Wilson

Fight for the Future


P.S. We’re excited to partner with Lantern to help spread this freedom fighting software far and wide. They’re a non-profit like us, and they’re running an indiegogo campaign right now. If you’re psyched, you should donate; Lantern is a 501(c)3 non-profit and the proceeds will go to a great cause!

P.P.S. Lantern is built for Mac, Windows, and Linux. If you’re seeing this email on your phone, can you share it instead?

[Share it on Facebook]


[Share it on Twitter]

116 notes

Comcast caught red-handed (this is why we need net neutrality)

Dear Fight for the Future member,

Did you read this article about net neutrality that Comcast had censored? Like many attempts at corporate censorship, it totally backfired.

We could hardly ask for a more perfect example of what the stakes are in the Battle for the Net. If we lose net neutrality, there will be nothing to stop Internet providers like Comcast from going on a censorship rampage — picking and choosing what we can and can’t see based on whether it aligns with their corrupt interests.

Why was Comcast so intent on censoring the article in question? It exposed some of their most immoral lobbying efforts, using astroturf groups to attempt to speak on behalf of communities of color. This isn’t the first time an ISP has been caught outright in this type of scam — last month the leaders of national Deaf advocacy organizations embarrassed Verizon for attempting to convince Congress that net neutrality rules would be bad for people with disabilities.

We know that the big Cable companies are playing dirty, and have tons of money to amplify their twisted versions of the truth, but we’re ready for them.

So who’s on Team Cable cheerleading for censorship and who’s on Team Internet standing up for free speech through Title II reclassification?

Well, we just updated BattleForTheNet.com with a new political scoreboard so you can find out which side of the battle politicians and companies are choosing. Click here to check it out and share.

The next few weeks will be key as we build up our resistance to Comcast and co’s attempt at net domination. As we get closer to the FCC’s September deadline and decision, we’ll be striking harder and more often, and we’ll need everyone to step up and challenge themselves to do more.

Thursday, August 7th at 4pm EDT, we’re hosting a strategy call for anyone and everyone who wants to get more involved in the fight for net neutrality. Want to join? Click here to RSVP.

We’ll be listing the strategy call publicly on the site, but we wanted to give Fight for the Future members a heads up. It’s tomorrow at 4pm EDT.

Hope to talk to you then!

For Team Internet,
-Evan at Fight for the Future


P.S.
Please chip in $10 today to help us keep winning in the battle for the net.

107 notes

Comcast affiliated news site censors article about net neutrality

… and simultaneously proves why we desperately need net neutrality to prevent ISPs from going on a censorship rampage.

Read the shocking story in full here: http://www.republicreport.org/2014/comcast-affiliated-newsite-censored-my-article-about-net-neutrality-lobbying/

52 notes

The Reset continues!

Today we’re excited to announce the latest parts of the web that we’re making off-limits to government surveillance as part of our ongoing campaign to Reset the Net.

Have you reclaimed your privacy yet? Click here to get started.

Last month we launched Reset the Net with a bang on and we reached billions of people. The largest websites on earth participated, and we vowed to continue our work to secure the Internet site by site, app by app, and user by user.

Despite the resounding success of Reset the Net and the growing public outcry against mass surveillance, Congress seems intent on dragging their feet and pushing legislation that’s full of loopholes. We at Fight for the Future are disappointed with the latest Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, as it contains vague language that could potentially make things worse than the status quo. We’ll be working to demand improvements, but we’re not willing to wait.

By refusing to pass meaningful reform on this issue, the government is giving us no choice but to redouble our efforts to mount a digital self-defense against mass spying.

Here’s the awesome news in this month’s Reset the Net announcement:

  • Namecheap just launched SwitchToSSL.com, a one-stop site that makes it easy to add SSL encryption to your website for just $1.99 (and some gets donated to us!)

  • GSM Nation, a major seller of unlocked smartphones, is joining Reset the Net by including a physical “Privacy Pack” insert in the thousands of phones they ship.

  • reddit, with 115 million unique visitors a month, vowed to continue offering free advertising to privacy-related startups for the duration of the Reset the Net campaign. Got an app they should feature? Tell us on Twitter or reply to this email.

  • The Student Net Alliance, a new network of campus groups working for Internet freedom, launched a Campus Internet Policy Gradebook to pressure colleges and universities to adopt better practices to protect student privacy and free speech rights.

  • Open Whisper Systems announced this week the launch of Signal, a new app allowing for FREE and easy end-to-end encrypted phone calls worldwide on iPhone. Check it out and start making phone calls in privacy!

We’ll be announcing a new round of Reset the Net participants, and escalating our actions and demands each month. Want to be included in the next wave? Know an organization, company, news outlet, or app that should be included? Reply to this email and let us know.

No matter who you are, you can take a few simple steps to secure your own devices, protecting your and your family’s privacy. Check out the Reset the Net privacy pack, and share it widely today: http://pack.resetthenet.org

For the Internet,
-Tiffiniy and Evan
Fight for the Future & Reset the Net

PS. If you missed the launch of Reset the Net, check out this awesome infographic to see the incredible thigns we’ve accomplished so far.

P.P.S. Organizing a single day of action like we did on June 5th is a major effort, but organizing a long term effort to secure the web is even more epic. Want to help support this work? Please chip in today.

27 notes

Press Release: Organizers of largest ever effort to secure the web against mass surveillance announce next phase of “Reset the Net”

image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2014

Media contact:
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future
Phone: 978-852-6457
Email:
press@fightforthefuture.org

Organizers of largest ever effort to secure the web against mass surveillance announce next phase of “Reset the Net

Fight for the Future, the digital rights group behind last month’s successful “Reset the Net” campaign, vow to announce new participants and actions each month to spread the use of encryption technology and make more and more of the web off-limits to mass surveillance.

Today, organizers of the Reset the Net campaign unveiled the latest advances in Internet’s collective push to block out mass government surveillance. This month’s participants include smartphone retailer GSM Nation who will add educational Reset the Net inserts to phones they ship, domain registrar Namecheap who launched SwitchToSSL.com to encourage more sites to encrypt, reddit, who pledged to run free ads for privacy startups, and the Student Net Alliance who announced a campaign to grade campuses based on their Internet freedom and privacy policies.

“Last month it was clear that the resounding echoes of the Reset the Net launch had been heard in the chambers of Congress when the House voted to pass amendments that would have meaningfully reined in NSA and FBI spying,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, “But the Senate voted to kill those amendments, and the latest version of the USA Freedom Act contains dangerously vague language that could potentially worsen the status quo. By dragging their feet on this issue, Congress is forcing the public to take matters into their own hands. They’re saying: encrypt or get spied on. What choice do we have?”

Reset the Net was launched last month on June 5th, the anniversary of the first Snowden revelation in The Guardian and Washington Post. The campaign reached billions of people and involved the largest websites on earth including Wordpress, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, Wikipedia, reddit, Mozilla, and Minecraft. As part of the effort, many sites pledged to add SSL, HSTS, and Perfect Forward Secrecy to their sites to protect user privacy, while others helped promote the free and open source encryption tools in the Reset the Net Privacy Pack.

Edward Snowden endorsed the campaign during a video appearance on June 5th, saying, “We’re past the point where citizens are entirely dependent on governments to defend our rights. We don’t have to ask for our privacy, we can take it back.” He also submitted a written statement in support of the campaign.

Reset the Net organizers vow to announce a new round of participants each month, and to continue escalating their demands on governments and corporations to end mass suspicionless surveillance.

This month’s Reset the Net announcements:

  • GSM Nation, a major phone retailer, announced that they will join Reset the Net by including a physical “privacy pack” insert in thousands of mobile devices that they ship to educate customers about free and open source applications they can use to protect their mobile privacy. They also announced that they will soon be offering the privacy-conscious Blackphone, as part of an ongoing collaboration with Fight for the Future.

  • Leading domain registrar Namecheap launched SwitchToSSL.com, a one stop website in partnership with Reset the Net that makes it easy and cheap for webmasters to protect their visitors’ privacy by adding SSL encryption to their sites for just $1.99 (of which $1 is donated to Fight for the Future to support the campaign.) During the June launch of Reset the Net, Namecheap distributed more than 6,000 SSL certificates, organizers set a goal of 10,000 by the end of August.

  • Student Net Alliance, a new international network of student-run Internet freedom groups, announced the launch of the Campus Internet Policy Gradebook, which will grade colleges and universities’ policies based on 10 criteria including how they manage student data, relationships with NSA and other agencies, free speech protections, student intellectual property rights, transparency reporting, and encryption of data. Student organizers will be collecting data this Fall and launching campaigns based on their findings. More on Student Net Alliance here.

  • reddit, “the front page of the Internet” with more than 115 million monthly visitors, committed to continue running free advertisements for privacy startups to give a boost to the many new easy-to-use encryption technologies that have been developed since the Snowden revelations.

  • Open Whisper Systems this week unveiled Signal, a free and open source app allowing for worldwide encrypted phone calls on iPhone. They further announced that Signal will become one unified app that will replace TextSecure and RedPhone on Android, and will soon have a browser extension option, allowing for user friendly end-to-end encrypted communication on nearly any device.

Below are statements from some of this month’s Reset the Net participants:

Laura Harrison Director of Marketing at GSM Nation said, "We believe that everyone should have the right to keep their personal information private, including information stored on their mobile devices. To that end, we’re excited to partner with Fight For the Future to educate users who purchase cell phones from GSM Nation about the steps they can take to keep their mobile devices secure. By implementing these suggestions, mobile users can begin taking steps to protect their information from prying eyes."

"We were proud to support the first push for Reset the Net in June, where we helped distribute thousands of SSL certificates,” said Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap, “All of us here at Namecheap believe deeply in the importance of a free and open Internet. We’re glad to be a positive part of the solution to enhance internet privacy.”

"Last month, hundreds of students came together to protest mass surveillance on college campuses. But some of the most egregious violations of privacy are committed by the universities themselves, " said Alec Foster, Executive Director of Student Net Alliance, “That’s why we’re announcing the Campus Internet Policy Gradebook: a resource to not only help students learn about innovation and privacy policies at their schools, but to let students compare their school’s policies to other institutions. In addition, the recommendations for improvement can help students identify and work to change problematic policies on campus.”

"Repairing the damage that the NSA has done to our online privacy isn’t something you can accomplish in a day, it’s going to take time," said Erik Martin, general manager of reddit, “There’s been an exciting surge in the development of easy-to-use privacy technology in the wake of the Snowden revelations, we aim to do our part to get those tools into the hands of everyday Internet users who want to protect themselves from illegal surveillance.”


###

23 notes

1 Million strong!

Hey there,

Got two seconds to help?

Please vote for Fight for the Future for Disconnect’s charity of the month!

Exciting news! The Fight for the Future community is growing. We now have more than 1 million members who are spread out all over the world, and come from nearly every political viewpoint. Our love for the free and open Internet unites us.

While we’ve been growing our ranks, we’ve been keeping our team small and our costs low. There’s still just six of us running FFTF with the help of an amazing network of volunteers, coalition partners, and co-conspirators.

Many of you have funded our work. We’ve been excited to report how we use our resources creatively — we go big or go home. Just this year we:

  • began development on an open source app and browser extension (that many of you helped fund!) that will allow us to send urgent alerts without using email when the Internet is threatened. Want to help? Check out the code on github and get involved.

  • brought together an unprecedented coalition of tech companies, labor unions, environmental groups, leftists and libertarians to oppose Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership’s secretive internet censorship plan.
  • won the prestigious Knight Foundation’s prototype award to build a global anti-censorship alert system. Helped crowdfund thousands of VPNs to send to activists fighting censorship in Turkey.

  • pushed back on the expansion of corporate meddling in Internet freedom by rallying against CISA (the new CISPA), collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures against Facebook’s abusive practices, and supporting Occupy Google when they were arrested for free speech.

Here’s a super easy way you can help us keep winning victories like these:

Click here to vote for Fight for the Future for Disconnect’s charity of the month!

It doesn’t cost anything, so it’s an awesome way to help even if you’re broke! You don’t have to log in or share your email or anything. It takes two seconds and it could help us receive thousands of dollars of much needed funding that we’ll immediately use to continue ramping up the fight for net neutrality, online privacy, and free expression.

We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished together! All 1,247,000 (and counting) of us. Just as a reminder, we only want to email people who want to get our emails, so if you ever want to unsubscribe, we try to make it really easy. Just use the link at the bottom of all our emails.

Thanks for being part of the Fight for the Future team. Feels good to win, doesn’t it?

With respect,
-Evan, Tiffiniy, Holmes, Kevin, Jessica, Jeff
and the whole FFTF team

P.S. If you need even more reasons to feel great about what we’ve done together, get this full-length book about our epic victory against SOPA! It’s even called “The Fight for the Future.” Featuring you, if you were there!

P.P.S. For more info about Disconnect.me’s Charity of the Month program, check out this blog post. They provide open source privacy tools, and are major FFTF supporters!

8 notes