Just over two years ago, Planet Waves along with websites of all sorts “went black” all around the Internet in an unprecedented show of solidarity, to pressure members of the U.S. Congress not to pass two detrimental bills related to maintaining a free and open Internet. And it worked.
Tomorrow will be another day of online action, called The Day We Fight Back, and again Planet Waves will be taking part. This time around, the target is not a bill surrounding Internet access, but rather the unmitigated and unconstitutional mass surveillance practices being perpetrated by the NSA against the United States’ own citizens.
What you will see at the top of the Planet Waves webpage tomorrow is a banner asking you to participate by calling or emailing your legislators in Congress. You are being tasked with asking your elected officials to support the USA FREEDOM Act, with its stronger reforms on domestic surveillance and data collection, and to oppose the weaker, NSA-enabling FISA Improvements Act.
You are an integral piece of tomorrow’s event. We don’t know what will happen exactly or precisely how many emails and phone calls it will take to make an effect. What we do know is that this is about all of us; that there is power in numbers; and that when we make ourselves known collectively through individual action in a concentrated, tangible way, those representing us in government pay better attention.
The Day We Fight Back has been organized primarily by the activist group Demand Progress — headed by David Segal. Segal co-founded Demand Progress with the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide a little more than a year ago while facing prosecution by the Justice Department that, by all accounts, crossed the line into persecution for actions that ultimately do not seem to have been criminal.
Swartz had been the driving force behind the Internet blackout in 2012, which targeted the heavy-handed bills SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (a related bill). You can get a better feel for who he was and what he accomplished in his all-too-short life in the video above in this post.
As of earlier today, more than 5,800 individual websites had signed on to participate in The Day We Fight Back, including Planet Waves. We hope you will join us and make your voice heard. To quote the website for The Day We Fight Back:
“The SOPA and PIPA protests were successful because we all took part, as a community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody ‘made themselves the hero of their own story.’ We can set a date, but we need all of you, the users of the Internet, to make it a movement.”