Concerned about the government’s increasing surveillance powers but unimpressed with the congressional response in Washington so far, state lawmakers from both major political parties are now taking it upon themselves to protect the online and communication privacy of their constituents.
Meanwhile, individuals and privacy groups are planning their own grassroots response to mass surveillance, hoping to repeat past victories by harnessing the power of digital communications to ensure they are adequately protected from government overreach.
As the Associated Press reports Wednesday, efforts are now underway “in at least 14 states are a direct message to the federal government: If you don’t take action to strengthen privacy, we will.”
According to AP:
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have joined in proposing the measures, reflecting the unusual mix of political partnerships that have arisen since the NSA revelations that began in May. Establishment leadership has generally favored the programs, while conservative limited government advocates and liberal privacy supporters have opposed them.
Supporters say the measures are needed because technology has grown to the point that police can digitally track someone’s every move.
Devices such as license plate readers and cellphone trackers “can tell whether you stayed in a motel that specializes in hourly rates, or you stopped at tavern that has nude dancers,” said David Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
“It’s one thing to know you haven’t violated the law, but it’s another thing to know you haven’t had every one of your moves tracked,” he said.
Next week, on February 11, privacy advocates and online freedom groups are mobilizing against NSA and other government surveillance in a day of action they’ve dubbed ‘The Day We Fight Back.’
According to Katitza Rodriguez at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the groups organizing the action, those participating will be demanding “an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics.”
Galvanized by what they see as 13 Principles of internet and communication freedoms, activists will use the day to call attention to those goals, lobby on their behalf with their representatives, and declare an end to the encroaching, unaccountable, and unregulated surveillance apparatus.
“The Principles spellout just why mass surveillance is a violation of human rights,” explained Rodriguez, and they “give sympathetic lawmakers and judges a list of fixes they could apply to the lawless Internet spooks. On the day we fight back, we want the world to sign onto those principles. We want politicians to pledge to uphold them. We want the world to see we care.”