With each new leak getting consecutively worse, stories of NSA surveillance have caused quite an uproar recently online. We’ve gone from gawking at amateurish PowerPoint presentations explaining the level at which PRISM operates, to hearing about government sponsored Malware convincing the head of Microsoft to refer to the NSA as a serious and persistent threat to internet security. And headlines continue to reach new levels of absurdity with events like the NSA phone-tapping the German Chancellor and creating tools for hacking Cisco, Juniper and Wahwei routers with ease.
It’s time, once again, to take action.
Tomorrow, on Feb 11, people from all corners of the web (and from all different areas of the political spectrum) are coming together to protest against mass surveillance.
This protest is reminiscent of the time the internet banded together to stop the SOPA and PIPA bills as they made their way through congress. Sites like Google and Wikipedia shut down for a day to let people know that this was an issue that they needed to pay attention to and confront their congressional representatives about. And it worked. The backlash caused by the protest was so severe that even the original sponsor of the SOPA bill backed out, leaving it dead in the water.
So we triumphed once before, and now we have the opportunity to aim for that level of effectiveness again.
In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance. In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th. Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.
Since WordPress makes up such a large part of the internet, it’s important that we—as users, developers, hosts, and community members—participate in this cause.
The WordPress community took action once before, by coming out with a number of tools and plugins that people could use for getting the word out about the SOPA and PIPA bills, and we are doing it again. Here are a few options to use on your WordPress site in order to join the protest against mass surveillance by the NSA:
If you’re the type that doesn’t want to tweak your site too much, this is the best option for you. If your site is attached to Cloudflare, you can simply follow the instructions in this repository to temporarily replace your site with a warning to users and not even have to touch your WordPress installation.
If you don’t mind losing your traffic for day, you can change your theme to redirect users straight to TheDayWeFightBack.org. It’s just bootstrap so it’s lightweight and simple. Thanks to Russel Aaron in Las Vegas for putting this together quickly! Here is a demo.
This will display The Day WE Fight Back banner at the top of your site. It’s a simple use of thedaywefightback.js banner code created by the movement to try and get traction across sites. Probably one of the easier solutions to test out, it won’t trigger until February 11, so you may want to test it ahead of time to make sure none of the js code conflicts with your site.
This is another WordPress plugin that uses thedaywefightback.js banner code to display the banner at the top of your site. I like the options used in this particular plugin and it’s very versatile.
When Edward Snowden was asked about his greatest fear, his response was that he was most afraid that his whistle blowing would change nothing…that people would still choose to live under surveillance.
It is a choice to remain inactive or apathetic. But in the spirit of open source, the democratization of publishing, and everything else that WordPress stands for, I hope that our community makes the other choice—to rally against the NSA and take back to internet, again.
Ask your customers and clients if they would like to join in on this important protest.
Find out more at TheDayWeFightBack.org.
Self & School taught C++, Java, PHP, Perl and Ruby Open Source Developer working as a Software Engineer for SPAWAR Research (G2 Software Systems) with a BSCS degree. Started using and developing on WordPress in 2009 and started the AdvancedWP.org community in 2011 which now has over 1,400 members world wide across 3 social networks. Has spoken at over half a dozen or more WordCamps on a range of advanced topics. Message him on Twitter @bastosmichael.