On June 6th, 2013, Edward Snowden shocked the world when he revealed that the National Security Agency had been actively collecting data on virtually everyone in the United States, regardless of affiliations (or lack thereof) to terrorist organizations. In addition, Snowden revealed that the NSA had been spying on foreign leaders, citizens of other countries and foreign governments. Of course, the NSA stated that this was all in the name of the greater good and only to protect the American citizens from those who wish to harm our way of life.
Recently, President Obama even stated that he intends to reform the NSA, including halting phone data collection. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be out of concern for American privacy rights, but rather a shift of responsibility from the government to the private sector. If the government isn’t involved, then poll numbers aren’t affected.
Snowden’s story has been spun by various media outlets. Based on who you talk to, the man is a patriot or a traitor. In light of Snowden’s recent interview with Brian Williams, NBC News released data that the majority of those polled view Snowden as a traitor. The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to view him as someone who performed a duty in the name of freedom of speech, the cornerstone of our rights as citizens of the United States. Snowden himself said in a video interview at SXSW that there’s no question he would leak the information again, because he”took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and I saw the Constitution … being violated on a massive scale.”
In recognition of the one-year anniversary since Snowden shook the core of the younger generation–people in my generation who don’t really buy into conspiracy theories and who have been raised to think the government is there to protect them–a campaign called “Reset The Net” has been launched.
The website has a pretty good summary of what the campaign is about, including a quick video to get the message out.
Essentially, they state that the problem is that the NSA exploits weak links in internet security to spy on everyone. This is true. When was the last time you REALLY thought about SSL protocol when signing up for a forum or surfing? Do you know what HSTS or PFS protection is? If not, that’s okay. Most people who use the Internet don’t know these things, either. This is what allows the NSA to collect data about you, and honestly, it’s what makes those Facebook ads in your sidebar so creepy.
The solution and plan is as simple as the problem. By building NSA-proof security into the Internet every day, we can regain control of our data. By exploring internet browsers such as Tor or SRWare Iron, we can help maintain our anonymity and not give our surfing habits to conglomerates such as Facebook or Google. Then, once we upgrade ourselves, we can promote the campaign.
I’m not a person who’s into slacktivism. I’m not going to “lyke dis if i cry everyt1ime” on Facebook or share a hashtag that is merely clickbait. I know that those tactics don’t change anything. Seriously, posting your bra color to raise awareness for breast cancer? I’m already aware of breast cancer, thank you. After realizing the full reach of idiocy with the Kony 2012 debacle, I’m jaded like that.
I’m also passionate about freedom of speech. I’m passionate about a free Internet. I have this crazy idea that the information I look at should be private to me if I say so. If I want to look up information on underwear packs for my drag king persona, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. If I need to Google a weird rash that my husband developed, I shouldn’t be haunted by ads for skin cream three months later. And I’m not alone. Many others agree with me.
I’m not saying that you need to run a splash screen on June 5th. I’m not saying that you need to participate in the #resetthenet hashtags or follow the conversation. I AM saying that you should educate yourself and know what the implications of allowing data breach are. Next time you surf over to an extremist feminist site might be the time they put you on a watch list, you dirty liberal sympathizer you.