The secret police agency the Stasi of West Germany was one of the most effective that ever existed. The primary task of the Stasi was to spy on citizens in addition to international espionage and covert operations. While the Stasi may have had a very similar goals and roles as the NSA it did not have the technology. “I was surprised at how crude the surveillance was. “Their main surveillance technology was mail, telephone, and informants,” Bruce said.
The movement of surveillance from the physical to the technological presents a grave threat to freedom and democracy. Everyone can now reasonably assume that they are being spied on at all times. This is the type of surveillance which philosophers Bentham and Foucault refer to as the panopticon. The panopticon they described however would be a physical building with physical surveillance.
The panopticon was organized such that everyone could be watched at all times as we see in prisons and schools. Even though the watchers cannot possibly watch everyone at once no one knows who they are watching as they cannot be seen. The panopticon creates a situation where the people know that they can be watched at any point in time and therefore begin to police their own behavior continuously. The watchers do not need to actually watch or coerce for the coercion to take place.
The NSA “is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” — Washington Post
The NSA collects the content and metadata of emails, web activity, chats, social networks, and everything else from fiber-optic cables “that carry much of the world’s Internet and phone data.” — Washington Post
This perpetual surveillance undermines the first amendment while at the same time destroying the fourth amendment. When people know that they are being listened to and that they things they say can be used to prosecute them in court this will cause many to stay quiet. We now know that what we say can be used to convict or kill us even if no crime has been committed. There has been on ongoing trend to use entrapment and surveillance to persecute before prosecuting such as the case of the NATO 3.
Just days ago news broke that the US is considering killing a US Citizen in a foreign country using drone strikes. The Obama administration claims they have information the target may commit a crime. The president of the US is looking for a legal way to kill a US citizen in a foreign country on the basis that a crime may be committed completely disregarding the right to due process. In addition there are many legal and moral issues with the United States use of drone strikes in foreign countries.
The NSA mass surveillance programs undermine our right to free speech while at the same time used to deny us the right to due process. The creation of mass surveillance programs in combination with the destruction of the first and fourth amendments are integral steps to creating a fascist society. This is why we must fight back.
“There is simply no justification for continuing an unconstitutional policy with a 0% success rate.” ~ Edward Snowden
More about The Day We Fight Back
Some on twitter said that the tweet storm with people changing their avi’s and banners was a stupid waste of time. It was not merely a twitter action there were many other successive actions. Over 6,000 websites participated by either going dark or placing a banner across their website. The call to action on the led to over 70,657 people calling and 142,062 people writing their representatives in by 4:30 PM PST. Many links and a lot of information on how to combat the NSA were shared across the net. At www.offnow.org there is information the resources the NSA needs to function and ideas for further action including legislation and action on universities.
While all of this was a wonderful show to see I doubt many expect this one day, The Day We Fight Back to end the NSA or mass surveillance programs. This day may however spread more awareness among the general population how grave this situation is. There will be many more days were we will fight back. As information spreads our numbers grow.