The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance

thedaywefightback.org

TODAY, FEBRUARY 11TH, 2014 IS THE DAY WE FIGHT BACK AGAINST MASS SURVEILLANCE

The NSA ‘has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.’ (The New York Times)

The NSA is collecting the content and metadata of emails, web activity, chats, social networks, and everything else as part of what it calls ‘upstream’ collection. (The Washington Post)

The NSA collected ‘almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks’ in one month in 2013. (The Guardian)

Governments worldwide need to know that mass surveillance, like that conducted by the NSA, is always a violation of our inalienable human rights.

Over the past year, more than 360 organizations in over 70 countries have come together to support the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.

These thirteen Principles establish the human rights obligations of any government conducting surveillance. They are the core of an international movement to compel all states to stop the mass spying of the innocent. The Principles are already being used in national campaigns and international pressure to reign in spies including the NSA.

On Anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s Tragic Passing, Leading Internet Groups and Online Platforms Announce Day of Activism Against NSA Surveillance

Mobilization, dubbed “The Day We Fight Back” to Honor Swartz & Celebrate Anniversary of SOPA Blackout

A broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms will hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime on February 11th. Dubbed ‘The Day We Fight Back‘, the day of activism was announced on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic passing of activist and technologist Aaron Swartz. The protest is both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years ago this month, which he helped spur.

Participants including Access, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, BoingBoing, Reddit, Mozilla, ThoughtWorks, and more to come, will join potentially millions of Internet users to pressure lawmakers to end mass surveillance — of both Americans and the citizens of the whole world.

On January 11, 2013, Aaron Swartz took his own life. Aaron had a brilliant, inquisitive mind that he employed towards the ends of technology, writing, research, art, and so much more. Near the end of his life, his focus was political activism, in support of civil liberties, democracy, and economic justice.

Aaron sparked and helped guide the movement that would eventually defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act in January 2012. That bill would have destroyed the Internet as we know it, by blocking access to sites that allowed for user-generated content — the very thing that makes the Internet so dynamic.

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, which he co-founded with Swartz, said: ‘Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime. If Aaron were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings.’ According to Roy Singham, Chairman of the global technology company ThoughtWorks, where Aaron was working up until the time of his passing:

‘Aaron showed us that being a technologist in the 21st century means taking action to prevent technology from being turned against the public interest. The time is now for the global tribe of technologists to rise up together and defeat mass surveillance.’

According to Josh Levy of Free Press:

‘Since the first revelations last summer, hundreds of thousands of Internet users have come together online and offline to protest the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs. These programs attack our basic rights to connect and communicate in private, and strike at the foundations of democracy itself. Only a broad movement of activists, organizations and companies can convince Washington to restore these rights.’

Brett Solomon, Executive Director, Access, added:

‘Aaron thought in systems. He knew that a free and open internet is a critical prerequisite to preserving our free and open societies. His spirit lives in our belief that where there are threats to this freedom, we will rise to overcome them. On February 11th, we’ll rise against mass surveillance.’

On the day of action, the coalition and the activists it represents make calls and drive emails to lawmakers. Owners of websites will install banners to encourage their visitors to fight back against surveillance, and employees of technology companies will demand that their organizations do the same. Internet users are being asked to develop memes and change their social media avatars to reflect their demands.

Websites and Internet users who want to talk part can visit TheDayWeFightBack.org to sign up for email updates and to register websites to participate. Regular updates will be posted to the site between now and the February 11th day of action.

WHO: Access, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, The Other 98%, BoingBoing, Mozilla, Reddit, ThoughtWorks — and many more to come

WHAT: Day of Action in Opposition to Mass Spying, Honoring Aaron Swartz and SOPA Blackout Anniversary

WHEN: February 11, 2014

HOW INTERNET USERS CAN HELP:

  1. Visit TheDayWeFightBack.org
  2. Sign up to indicate that you’ll participate and receive updates.
  3. Sign up to install widgets on websites encouraging its visitors to fight back against surveillance. (These are being finalized in coming days.)
  4. Use the social media tools on the site to announce your participation.
  5. Develop memes, tools, websites, and do whatever else you can to participate — and encourage others to do the same.

    TAKE ACTION NOW, #CookedNews,#stopspying, #stopspying

    https://thedaywefightback.org/

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The prisoners of conscience of Sochi2014

Russian activist Yevgeny Vitishko

The re-arrest today of yet another environmental activist in Russia’s Krasnodar region where the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will open on 7 February, as well as his brief detention along with five colleagues last night, are more evidence of growing efforts to clamp down on civil society ahead of the Games, Amnesty International said.

 Igor Kharchenko of the Russian NGO Environmental Watch for North Caucasus (Ecologicheskaya Vakhta po Severnomu Kavkazu) is currently being held by police in Krasnodar, the regional capital, where they had arrived ahead of the Olympic torch relay. He was arrested today under the pretext that his car had been ‘involved in a crime’, shortly after three masked men had smashed in the front and back windows of the vehicle.

‘Just days away from the official opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian authorities are using every trick in the book to muzzle freedom of expression and silence dissenting voices,’ said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow Office.

Kharchenko is one of six activists from Environmental Watch who were also detained last night for several hours in Krasnodar before being released. They felt compelled to scrap plans for a Sochi launch of their report exposing environmental damage caused by the construction ahead of the Games.

Their detention came the same day that their fellow environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested in the Krasnodar Region city of Tuapse and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention, purportedly for swearing in public.

‘This spate of harassment of civil society activists bodes ill for the coming weeks, and raises fears that the Sochi Games will be a human rights-free zone. Even more troubling is what will happen to Russian activists after the Olympic medals are handed out and the international attention fades,’ said Sergei Nikitin.

‘Silencing civil society does nothing to increase security around the Sochi Games and instead broadcasts to the world how the Russian authorities are failing spectacularly to uphold and protect international human rights standards.

As the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics comes closer, harassment against civil society activists has intensified, Amnesty International said today after the arrest of an environmentalist for allegedly swearing in public.

Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested today in Tuapse, part of the Sochi area where the Games will take place. He has been reportedly charged with ‘petty hooliganism‘, allegedly for swearing previously at a bus stop. At a court hearing today he was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention.

‘Vitishko’s name has now become synonymous with harassment of civil society activists in the run-up to Sochi Games. Vitishko and his friends have been trying to expose environmental violations during the preparation of the Sochi Olympics. For this they are being punished. By trying to lock him up as a ‘petty hooligan’ the authorities are trying to gag him,’ said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

‘The concern is what will happen to civil society after the closure of the Olympics after the international focus moves away.’

Yevgeny Vitishko and his fellow activists have been actively involved in protests regarding the deforestation and illegal construction and fencing in areas of protected forest around Sochi.

In 2012, he received a suspended sentence in connection with an environmental protest. Last December, a court in Tuapse ruled that he should serve three years in prison for violating a curfew associated with the suspended sentence. His appeal hearing was reportedly scheduled for 22 February 2014, but now all information regarding it has been conspicuously removed from the court’s website.

Amnesty International has already raised concern about his unfair trial which resulted in a court decision to send him to prison colony for three years. His arrest comes as he is awaiting his appeal hearing.

Vitishko’s supporters fear that he will be held in custody until the day of his appeal under administrative charges, and then be sent to a prison colony.

Rights groups have accused Russian officials of harassing activists and journalists in the Sochi area, detaining them on trumped-up charges.

The Olympics are projected to cost $51 billion, or more than every other Winter Olympics combined. The high price tag is being blamed on Sochi being extremely ill-suited to host an Olympics and rampant corruption.

On Wednesday, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were set to make their first public appearance in the United States after being released from a Russian prison (23dec.). They were scheduled to speak at a Brooklyn concert organized by the human rights advocacy group and featuring stars such as Madonna.

Alekhina said she wants Americans to look beyond the grandeur of the projects and buildings of the games.

‘They are foreign objects in Russia,’ she said. ‘The only thing that connects Russia to these objects is taxpayers’ money, which has been stolen and has been used to build these Olympic objects.’

Alekhina called on President Barack Obama to increase pressure on Russia over alleged human rights abuses, and said she and Tolokonnikova are handing over a petition to Putin to help ‘end this bullshit.’

‘Aren’t you sick of it all, Putin?’ Tolokonnikova asked.

International response to prior calls to boycott the games has garnered some largely symbolic gestures. Obama included three openly gay athletes in the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics in a rebuke of Putin’s anti-gay laws. And Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie said he is taking his male spouse to the opening ceremony. But twelve peaceful protesters remain incarcerated after police arrested them at the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow two years ago, the pair from Pussy Riot said.

Now that the band is an icon for the struggle against human rights abuses in Putin’s Russia, the two women said it will also act for the rights of prisoners in the United States.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina said they plan to visit prisons and meet with nonprofit organizations to learn about the issue of solitary confinement in the U.S. ‘We’re very interested in the fact of how NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) in the U.S. work and collaborate with penitentiary institutions,’ Alekhina said. ‘One of our main goals is to exchange experience.’

‘Pussy Riot inspired a new generation of activists around the world, Samir Goswami, managing director of the Amnesty International USA program Individuals and Communities at Risk said, adding that their supporters followed in the footsteps of those who helped Amnesty International obtain the release of some 44,000 prisoners since its international inception in 1961.

‘Pussy Riot were street performers,’ he said. At the subway, on the streets, they would call on people to take their rights seriously. ‘There are street performers in the U.S. whom we pass every day, but we don’t realize that they can help elevate human rights to the global conversation.’

‘They found a lot of support from folks in the U.S., especially from Russia’s diaspora community in Brooklyn, who called passionately for their release,’ Goswami said. ‘But they’re also learning about the prison conditions in the U.S. and plan on doing some research here.’

Kremlin Suspends Questioned Reform of Wildlife Reserves. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to amend recent environmental legislation that critics said could allow for real estate development in Russia’s protected territories. A law passed in December allows for the downgrading of any of the 102 Russian wildlife reserves to natural parks, where construction is permitted under certain conditions.

The law, which passed quickly through parliament, caused outcry from eco-activists, who said it could be exploited to build commercial real estate in wildlife reserves.

Krasnodar is a city located in the Southern Russia based on the Kuban River situated 80 kilometers away to the North East of the Black sea port. The prevailing political stability and the numerous administrative efforts taken by the regional administration has made the Krasnodar region one of the most favorable investment destinations in Russia.

More than 60 countries have investment cooperation in this region and 773 companies having foreign capital are already part of the regions economy. Majority of the FDI coming in this region is mainly concentrated on food industries, woodworking and fuel.

To finance venues and apartments in the Caucasus Mountains and along Sochi’s coast, state-owned Vnesheconombank, known as VEB, lent $7.4 billion to a who’s who of Russia’s elite. Among the biggest loan recipients are companies controlled byVladimir Potanin, chief executive of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. Joining him are Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of United Co. Rusal, the No. 1 aluminum company; Alexey Miller, chief of state-controlled gas provider OAO Gazprom; and German Gref, chief of state-controlled OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.


http://www.amnesty.org/

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