recommended reading

Coalition of Google, Facebook, and Other Tech Giants Joins Mass NSA Protest

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech titans collectively added their names Monday to a growing list of websites and organizations supporting a digital day of protest Tuesday against the National Security Agency's spy programs.

The Reform Government Surveillance coalition—which also includes AOL, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo—is the most prominent addition to a protest that has gained thousands of new supporters over the past week. The coalition has already been vocal in its opposition to NSA surveillance, and has long pressed for the ability to be more transparent with customers about government data requests.

Billing the protest as "The Day We Fight Back," organizers are promising that banners will be prominently displayed on websites across the Internet urging users to engage in viral activity expressing their opposition to the NSA. Additionally, those banners will ask readers to flood the telephone lines and email in-boxes of congressional offices to voice their support of the Freedom Act, a bill in Congress that aims to restrict the government's surveillance authority.

It remains unclear to what extent members of the coalition will participate, or whether they will host such banners on their individual sites.

"Google recognizes the very real threats that the U.S. and other countries face, but we strongly believe that government surveillance programs should operate under a legal framework that is rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight," wrote Susan Molinari, Google's vice president of public policy, in a blog post Tuesday.

The roster of participating groups, which organizers say now tops 5,700, also includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Reddit, Tumblr, Mozilla, DailyKos, and Amnesty International.

"The ultimate goal is to provide more esteem for the USA Freedom Act and other measures and to ensure that [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein's so-called FISA Improvements Act never sees the light of day," said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, told National Journal last week.

The Freedom Act—introduced late last year by Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former USA Patriot Act author—would limit the government's bulk collection of telephone metadata, install a privacy advocate in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and demand additional transparency from the NSA. It currently has 130 cosponsors in the House, and there is a companion bill in the Senate being pushed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.

Demand Progress, a leftist group, helped lead an earlier wave of Internet activism that famously killed the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act in 2012. Segal and others have likened Tuesday's protest to that earlier round of digital activism, which saw Google, Wikipedia and thousands of other populare sites deliberately shut down to show their opposition to those bills.

The protest, which blindsided many lawmakers at the time, worked, stopping the legislation in its tracks.

But Tuesday's protest won't be nearly as jarring. It won't feature any blackouts, and the Internet will mostly continue to hum along as always. Segal, however isn't ruling out a possible anti-NSA blackout down the road.

"To get to the [SOPA] blackout it required three, four, five pushes to allow allies to coalesce and express enough concerns about the legislation," Segal said.

This article appears in the February 11, 2014, edition of NJ Daily.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.