Prohibit Mass Surveillance via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prohibit Mass Surveillance.

For the background on today’s activism, I must channel my inner Thom Hartmann: This is mostly Ronald Reagan’s fault.

In 1981, President Reagan signed an executive order — number 12333 — which, according to our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations.”

This means NSA spying and mass surveillance.

So, despite recent bills in Congress designed to curtail mass telephone surveillance, the NSA’s primary surveillance authority has been left unchallenged. The good news is that the fix is easy and the president seems open to using the final two years of his administration to do things unilaterally. Why it took so long to come to that conclusion is a mystery, but let’s take advantage of it now that it’s happened.

The petition — available at EFF.org under the “Take Action” tab — asks for the president to reform Executive Order 12333 and issue a new order that “prohibits the United States from engaging in mass surveillance of digital communications.”

The effects of this order have been somewhat hidden. According PEN America’s report “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide found that 75% of those living in democracies have engaged in self-censorship. Writers en mass now fear that their governments will not respect their right to privacy and freedom of expression — a seriously troubling trend.

We already know far too little about our country’s law enforcement agencies and programs. If this trend continues, what’s left of our “Fourth Estate” watch dog press will decline even further. So, sign the EFF petition "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333” to curb the practice and restore — at least in part — our freedom of the press.

Also, please take a minute to sign the petitions in the “Additional Activism” section of the segment notes. EFF is trying to prevent the Federal Elections Commission from adding harmful regulations to online political speech that could disproportionately impact free platforms like YouTube — and therefore all of us who use YouTube content. The comment period ends this week, so time is short. There is also a petition from the ACLU urging the president to use the power of the executive order to stop mass surveillance.

Privacy, security, and Free Speech have always existed with tension. It is our job as citizens to demand our legislators and courts maintain a balance that errs on the side of uninhibited speech that promotes free thought and democracy.

TAKE ACTION:

SIGN the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petition: "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333”

Additional Activism/Resources:

Leave a comment for the Federal Elections Commission via EFF: "No New Regulation for Online Political Speech”

SIGN the ACLU pledge: "Invasion of the Data Snatchers”

Sources/further reading:

"PEN America: "'The Harm Caused by Surveillance...is Unmistakable’” via EFF

"Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers” from PEN American Center

"The Fight in Congress to End the NSA’s Mass Spying: 2014 in Review” at EFF

"ACLU accuses NSA of using holiday lull to ‘minimise impact’ of documents” by Nicky Woolf at The Guardian

"US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches” by Phillip Inman at The Guardian

Hear the segment in context:

Episode #890 "Why privacy matters (NSA Spying)"

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich


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