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Twitter and Wordpress join tech giants in Reset the Net protest

Firms join Edward Snowden, Mozilla, Google and more
Fri Jun 06 2014, 11:43
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THE RESET THE NET campaign kicks off today with strong support from the technology industry, with Twitter and Wordpress the latest to join. 

The Reset the Net campaign already has support from parties including Edward Snowden, Reddit, Imgur, Google and Mozilla, and it announced this afternoon that Twitter and Wordpress have also signed up. 

"It's been one year since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the US government's abusive spying programs. In that time Congress and the Obama Administration have failed to protect our rights. Now, they've got a rebellion on their hands as tech companies and internet users work together to directly intervene in mass surveillance and block the NSA and its kind from the web," said Tiffiniy Cheng, spokesperson for Fight for the Future.

"In the last year the public has spoken: mass surveillance is illegitimate. It's fundamentally at odds with democracy. Governments that abuse the internet to invade our privacy will lose their credibility in the eyes of the world."

While it appears to roll over the internet like a suffocating blanket, mass surveillance can still be halted according to Fight for the Future, and it is expecting its efforts to throw a spanner into the workings of the NSA and other national intelligence organisations.

"Mass surveillance is not inevitable. We believe we can make it too expensive and too difficult to bulk collect our data," added Cheng. " Starting today, we will turn more and more parts of the internet into places the NSA and other governments cannot see. Who in Congress is going to ask for more money to take away the human rights that citizens have taken back?"

Part of the campaign is a huge social media Thunderclap that will see partner websites and supporters tweet the same protest message at the same time. Also available is a 'privacy pack' that includes banners and other website ephemera.

"Demand Progress is committed to fighting for legislative reforms to protect user privacy and our civil liberties. But until those reforms vest - or if they don't - the internet is too important to leave unprotected," added David Segal, executive director of backers Demand Progress.

"We are supporting Reset The Net in order to protect our rights to privacy and to free association. It's time to turn on encryption by default."

Edward Snowden and Google joined the Reset the Net campaign earlier this week, with the latter releasing the source code for a Chrome extension that provides easy end-to-end encryption.

Edward Snowden, whose actions that kicked off the PRISM spying scandal prompted online protests like Reset the Net, has spoken out in support of the 5 June plans for a global effort against limits on internet freedoms.

In a statement issued via his attorney, Snowden said, "One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives - no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.

Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same."

Snowden called on others to join him for the 5 June day of action, and implement technologies to put an end to the mass government surveillance programmes.

"This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations," he said.

"We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That's why I am excited for Reset the Net - it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale. Join us on 5 June, and don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back."

Snowden's statement comes a day after Google announced that it was joining the Reset the Net campaign. Reset the Net already has many backers including Reddit and it will use the day to highlight privacy issues and security measures. The effort is supported by the Fight for the Future internet activist organisation.

In support of Reset the Net, Google also announced its own security contributions and encouraged a culture of privacy and security.

Google said that it encrypts all the mail messages that it can but it knows that it is hard for individuals to secure and encrypt all content that is sent between other email accounts.

"Both sides of an email exchange need to support encryption for it to work; Gmail can't do it alone. Our data shows that approximately 40 to 50 percent of emails sent between Gmail and other email providers aren't encrypted. Many providers have turned on encryption, and others have said they're going to, which is great news. As they do, more and more emails will be shielded from snooping," Google said in a blog post.

"For people looking for even stronger email security, end-to-end encryption is a good option - but it's been hard to use. So today we're making available the source code for End-to-End, a Chrome extension. It's currently in testing, and once it's ready for general use it will make this technology easier for those who choose to use it."

Google is also encouraging better password and security practices, and has added a section to its transparency report about the encryption it places on customers' email and communications.

Google said that it encrypts incoming and outgoing email messages with Transport Layer Security (TLS). It reported that approximately 70 percent of outgoing emails sent to other providers are encrypted, and 48 percent of incoming emails get the same treatment.

Fight for the Future hopes the actions on 5 June, which comes around a year after Edward Snowden first made his PRISM surveillance disclosures, will have far-reaching implications.

"We finally have a chance to directly intervene in mass surveillance and make the internet safer for everyone, but we literally need everyone who gets this email to join in securing their devices. No more excuses. It's time to show our power and make the web a safer place for everyone," the internet activist group said.

"We've been working tirelessly behind the scenes on this, and we are pumped. There are a bunch of things we have to keep secret for now to ensure we have the element of surprise, but let's just say there are going to be some incredibly exciting announcements on 5 June. Reset the Net isn't a single protest or day of action, it's the beginning of a movement that will change the future of the internet forever. We'll be making history together, and showing the true power that internet users have when we stand up for our rights."

Do you think Reset the Net will make a difference? Vote in our poll on the right hand side of the page. µ


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