While most of America will be celebrating with apple pies and fireworks this Independence Day, a number of high-profile web companies and activists have something else in store. Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and others are set to join hands with the Internet Defence League and the Fight for the Future non-profit organization to stage nationwide protests against the NSA’s PRISM spying program.
The protests will collectively be known as the “Restore the Fourth” campaign, and are set to take place in both the real and virtual worlds. Sites including Mozilla, WordPress, Reddit and 4Chan are all planning to display a banner that quotes a passage from the 4th Amendment:
Fight for the Future and the Internet Defence League claim to have the backing of more than 30,000 websites that are willing to take part in the protest. The organization’s have a bit of previous when it comes to succesful online campaigning – they previously led protest efforts against the deeply unpopular Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), during which websites like Google and Wikipedia blacked out their home pages for a day, whilst other sites stopped all services completely.
The Restore the Fourth protests are unlikely to be on the same scale – Google for one, could hardly be expected to join when its one of the nine companies at the center of the scandal, accused by Ed Snowden of willingly providing the NSA with a backdoor to its servers.
Even so, the Internet Defence League’s Tiffiniy Cheng is hoping that the protestors can get their point across:
“The U.S. Government has been systematically spying on people all over the globe, violating their human rights.”
“The NSA programs that have been exposed are blatantly unconstitutional, and have a detrimental effect on free speech and freedom of press worldwide. This is going to be our biggest protest since SOPA, and it should be no surprise. You can’t disregard people’s privacy, invade their personal lives on a daily basis, and not expect them to fight back.”
Organizers are hoping that as many as four million people will join in the campaign by tweeting the words, “This 4th of July, I stand by the Fourth Amendment and against NSA mass surveillance”, though in all honesty that estimation is probably on the optimistic side.
The protest efforts won’t be restricted to online activity either. Organizers are hoping for a large turn out at planned protests in dozens of cities across the US, including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C. According to Doug MacArthur, a moderator on Reddit’s r/news, the organizers are hopeful that between 10,000 and 20,000 people may turn out for the live protests.
Aside from this, the organizers are also urging supporters to write to their member of Congress protesting the NSA’s spying, and furthermore they’re hoping to raise $25,000 cash to pay for a series of TV commercials on US networks advertising their cause.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the loudest voices to speak out against PRISM, is backing these efforts:
“We’re glad to see the Restore the Fourth movement organizing protests across the country against unlawful NSA spying.”
“We hope these protests push elected officials to respond to the American people’s growing discontent with dragnet domestic surveillance.”