Advocacy groups plan day of protest against NSA surveillance

A group of activist groups and Internet companies are planning a coordinated protest of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11, with the hope that millions of people will join them.

The protest, called the Day We Fight Back, comes a month after the anniversary of Internet activist Aaron Swartz's death. Swartz committed suicide last January while facing a 35-year prison sentence for hacking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology network and downloading research articles.

Among the organizations participating in the protest are Demand Progress, an activist group Swartz co-founded, as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Reddit and Mozilla.

"Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency's mass spying regime," David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said in a statement. "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."

On the day of protest, the coalition is encouraging participants to call and email U.S. lawmakers. Participating websites plan to install banners to encourage visitors to fight back against surveillance. The groups are asking Internet users to develop memes and change their social media avatars to protest NSA surveillance.

Activists and some lawmakers have called for changes in the NSA's surveillance programs after former agency contractor Edward Snowden, in leaks beginning in mid-2013, revealed mass telephone and Internet surveillance efforts.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags reddittelecommunicationfree pressU.S. National Security AgencyDemand ProgressDavid SegalinternetlegislationmozillaElectronic Frontier FoundationprivacyEdward SnowdensecuritygovernmentAaron Swartz

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