Hundreds of Bay Area residents are taking to the streets and to the Internet today as part of a massive one-day protest against mass government surveillance.
Privacy advocates are holding “The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance” today to protest massive surveillance programs by the National Security Agency. The programs, made public last spring by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include the collection of information about phone calls, email messages, friends and contacts.
In San Francisco, protesters from peace and social justice group Code Pink and others planned to rally at noon at the home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and has vocally defended the NSA’s surveillance program, calling Snowden’s revelations “treason.”
Last October, the senator approved a bill that proposes increased privacy protections and transparency of the NSA’s surveillance programs while allowing the NSA to continue mass data collection.
Protesters at the rally will call on Feinstein “to take immediate action to halt the surveillance program and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s data collection programs,” Code Pink San Francisco spokeswoman Nancy Mancias said.
At 6 p.m., hundreds of people are expected to gather at the AT&T building at 611 Folsom St. in San Francisco to take part in the daylong protest.
Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician and whistleblower who revealed the company’s alleged cooperation with an illegal NSA domestic surveillance program to install hardware to capture and monitor Americans’ telecommunications, is set to attend.
The protest is also happening online, with thousands of websites today hosting a banner announcing today’s action and urging visitors to contact Congress and call on their legislators to oppose laws that would bolster NSA surveillance programs.
An unprecedented January 2012 web protest that used similar tactics helped defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), protest organizers said.
Organizers said today’s action also comes a year after the suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist and co-developer of web feed format RSS and popular news-sharing website Reddit.
“Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime,” said David Segal, who co-founded Internet activist group Demand Progress with Swartz. “If Aaron were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings.”
Participants in the daylong action include Internet activist groups such as Electronic Frontier Foundation and Demand Progress as well as Reddit and the free online software community Mozilla, according to organizers.
Laura Dixon, Bay City News