How the Future of Privacy and Internet Freedom is Achieved

For sometime, we have been asking ourselves if we can do something about the spying program. We have been wondering if there is any possibility at all of effectively resisting the great dragnet of the world’s communications and begin freeing others as well. The answer is very obvious: Yes. We indeed can begin bringing this down and ending this violation of the human right to privacy by committing ourselves to the cause. Now while the answer to if it is possible might be blunt, the question of “how” has still been debated by those who seek to make real change.

Without the need to spend several paragraphs setting the scenario and laying out the issues, it is already evident that the future of privacy and personal security in the digital age rests with ourselves and everyone among us. Each of us holds a piece to the puzzle of how to cripple the base of the mighty, all-seeing watchtower of surveillance and restore the ability to secure information and affairs for our own access. The only error in this succeeding is public initiative. We are in the second year of mass surveillance and worldwide data mining being in the public knowledge, and yet we have barely begun the first steps in dismantling this great injustice of the 21st century. Some would say the public just doesn’t care, and others that a great many are defeatists.  I would argue that many have indeed begun their first steps as individuals in securing their own information, while the public in unity has not. There has not been a collaboration among the masses of citizens of all the corners of the world with the aim of damaging that which holds up the surveillance program. I am indeed implying that for a public union of opposition to worldwide surveillance to have an impact, we must take great steps in beginning to dismantle it as a people, and with the commitment and will to make sacrifices along the way. We need to begin organizing online, sharing tactics on how we work effectively, spread the word far and wide and remain committed to what we started until it is proven that our efforts have done as we intended. The following are my own proposals on how the public may collaborate to begin to dismantle the foundation of the surveillance program.

Strikes and Boycotts

One of the first things that needs to be established is the Public’s resistance to being spied on, and its commitment to tearing down that system by any means. In this case, the means would be disrupting the functionality of communications across the country, and possibly across the world. This would partly be done by urging those who are employed in services that give the surveillance program things to use against the people to refuse payment and employment for as long as the employer continues to submit to the demands of the NSA and other powers, particularly companies who make products with backdoors and comply to user information demands often. This includes mobile service providers like Verizon and Internet Service providers like Comcast, as well as other Online services, namely Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo!, and others notorious for playing a part in the spying programs. The second way of doing this would be to issue boycotts against products, services and companies which comply to the spying program and do not respect the privacy of their users. This would likely be the easiest of approaches, and would be done by referencing and other sources of information on alternatives, however both being carried out would be most effective.

By combining a large-scale strike against employers compliant with the surveillance program and a massive boycott against malicious products and services, this would leave a mark on the financial infrastructure of the surveillance program, and with a long enough duration, would set the path for public discourse on the issue and change concerning intelligence gathering. By simply damaging the financial resources of these systems which consumers have been unknowingly funding since the beginning, and turning it around against it, we can reverse what has been setup against us.

Political Activism

The issue of surveillance is largely a political matter, and so to effectively remove it as a world-wide invasion of human rights requires the commitment of the public to become politically active against it. Those who begin to build the way to dismantling the spying program through proposals and campaigns, Politicians and Organizers of all origins, ought to be supported along the way in the entirety of their activism so long as their intentions are clear and for what we set out to do. Each person individually should also do their part by sending proposals to congress on how to downsize the surveillance programs so that they are not honed in on a domestic scale, but rather used correctly and as a measure for legitimate National Security, rather than as a default ingestion of communications everywhere. We must also acknowledge that National Security is a very real and important matter, especially in this time. It is something that cannot be dismantled entirely for the sake of the public’s convenience, but equally something that cannot be built to constitute all of life and occupy the space of everything it can. It must be restored to a sane and manageable system, one that can be used against actual threats and validated by the public as one that does not invade the human rights of the innocent. A summary of my own proposal on National Security as a replacement to worldwide surveillance is as follows.

  • Reallocate the funding of global surveillance programs to physical, warranted military/counter-terrorism operations in known areas of legitimate activity of enemies of National Security, in order to place action against known enemies and secure national security up front, that it may not be compromised.
  • Withdraw all major spying implementations from the World Wide Web, Internet Service Providers, Mobile Service Providers, Device firmware and other systems upon establishing necessary, closed, specific intelligence gathering and military/counter-terrorism in necessary areas of activity by enemies of the state, and disclose detailed information on the removal of these implementations.
  • Solidify the decision to deconstruct global surveillance conducted by the United States by enacting a proposal to make all federal proposals concerning the World Wide Web, Internet Service Providers, Mobile Service Providers, Device firmware and other systems public knowledge and to hold the proposals to a vote, and if the proposal is found to be an intrusion on the human right to privacy, or contains a section which violates this right, the proposal should be vetoed or amended, boldened by the Fourth Constitutional Ammendment. And finally, amend harmful and broad acts like the Pat-riot act which have held ties to the surveillance programs.

Proposals similar to this which focus both on ensuring real security for the nation and an end to global spying and data mining are, in my opinion, the ideal solution for this issue; ones that are simple enough to be hard to deny, and effective and clear enough to reach the goal.

Raising Awareness

Sharing information and developments concerning the spying program will be very crucial to the movement against it. Every change made to the programs will dictate what direction the public moves in to effectively work towards deconstructing it. Recent developments about encryption vulnerabilities utilized by the NSA have made many in the hacker community shift to other means of encrypting data. The same applies to revelations concerning the NSA cracking Encrypted Virtual Private Network traffic. Among sharing developments with those involved in the movement, getting the word out to others will be very important for strengthening the numbers of those involved. Reaching the public on this issue, informing others on securing communications, encryption and free software has been a strong goal since the genesis of the Snowden revelations. And so an establishment of a consistent, dedicated feed of information from reliable sources and whistleblowers related to the surveillance program is necessary to sustain the public’s knowledge of current happenings. This would likely be done in the form of a web log or other journalistic website, somewhat like WikiLeaks, with a backup of the published information in the event of the publications and domain being seized. Other smaller publications would operate as well, along with other independent journalists and activists who seek to get information out to the public about mass surveillance and the fight against it. There are several points that should be prioritized in the media concerning the efforts of the Anti-spying movement. Some of them are as follows.

  • Current State and scope of the Spying programs
  • State of efforts in projects combating the Programs
  • Information on Free software and Free providers of secure, decentralized communications
  • Information about petitions, bills and proposals which benefit the efforts against the spying programs
  • Information about petitions, bills and proposals which harm the efforts against the spying programs and/or strengthen the programs

In emphasizing these points and circulating them through a large portion of other media, the mission would become known to a growing number of people, and with their will, inspiration and determination, they would support the efforts and become a part of them. This has had mixed results, however. It is hard to turn a person from one set of habits to another, despite information regarding its harm. A person who has been regularly using Facebook, Google, Windows and other Microsoft services or Apple services, a smartphone and other compromised systems for the last decade, and being comfortable in that lifestyle will have a hard time suddenly using nothing but GNU/Linux (or another free UNIX system), free and open source software, encrypting documents, internet traffic, email, instant messages and other data, and removing themself from the compromised areas of modern life as best they can.

This has been the case for the most part in spreading the word of the surveillance program. Modern mainstream society has made itself comfortable in using and valuing a service based on its convenience rather than if it can be convenient while respecting the user’s rights and privacy, and so it will be difficult for everyday people to make this sort of change to benefit their own privacy. It is certainly not impossible, however. The vast libre alternatives to common software would, and do, suite many who need something of its kind, many of course will also find the software that is free (as in price) to be alluring, and thus more favorable.

Commitment, Resistance and Civil Disobedience

The matter at hand needs to be looked at as a plain and simple truth: The powers of the world have collaborated with the United States of America to execute global, warrantless mass surveillance against the entire population of the world, in an effort to gain pre-determined intelligence of threats to National Security. The means have been overlooked in an attempt to satisfy an ends, one that as not been reached and has not benefited the nation or any other, but has rather widely infringed on the basic human right to privacy. And as the power maintaining this system refuses to acknowledge its great harm and continues to justify its own malice, it becomes the people’s responsibility to take action and revise the corrupt system that has taken hold of them. (But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.) [x]

This is the reason for the need of a world-wide stance against surveillance, a stance built on the commitment of those who would fight for what is right and true. As my final proposal, after carrying out the previous methods and strengthening the efforts of the Anti-Spying movement, the public needs to remain tied to the mission they have established, and continue to resist that which prolongs the surveillance programs. The basic actions of this would be to end personal usage of non-free software and services, and urge others to do likewise, encrypt and secure personal communications and other data, become politically active in the fight against the surveillance programs, and consistently circulate information relating to the mission in social media and through public demonstrations. Multiplying these actions by the population of those around the world who are passionate about this cause would create a public atmosphere so great in number and strength, that there would be no doubt that the spying program would not last for long; we need only to start now, and grow until the goal is met.

As people of Democratic nations that have overstepped their boundaries, it is our responsibility and entitlement to correct the wrongdoings committed by our leaders that effects people globally and unlawfully. As this great invasion of human rights expands each day, it increasingly becomes irrefutable of what we must do to change things– not only for the dismantling of the surveillance program, but for a change to the approach to security and intelligence, so it may keep the integrity of national security but uniformly allow for individual security and acknowledge the human right to privacy.

A note to any NSA or other Intelligence agency persons

Before you begin expanding your surveillance on the author of this publication based on fear of a potential threat, I would like for you to first read and then re-read what has been stated, not for the use of your employer but for the benefit of you as an individual. Do you not see what is being asked? Do you not acknowledge the simple request that many people would ask for? Is a calling for a reform in intelligence gathering and national security methods based on a wide-spread invasion of human rights such an insidious action, that you would hone in on those who would speak out and index all communications from them, oblivious to what is being said? If so, you only continue to be a reason for reform in the intelligence community. I simply ask that you question the ethics of those for whom you are employed, and carefully examine if this is truly what the people of the United States and of the world would stand for.

How the Future of Privacy and Internet Freedom is Achieved

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