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Activists gather to fight against online surveillance

A wide range of activists have come together on the anniversary of netizen Aaron Swartz's death to speak out against the invasive National Security Administration's surveillance policies.

There have been a number of threats to online freedom over the past few years. The most recent has been the revelations regarding the NSA's PRISM program and additional data mining policies that came to light because of Edward Snowden. However, this is only the newest in a long line of threats like the proposed SOPA legislation of 2012. These issues continue to come to the forefront as they can threaten the very freedoms that many enjoy on the Internet each and every day.

The Internet offers a number of outlets to the millions of different users who use it. Be it something as simple as sharing a link on someone's Facebook wall, or as ambitious as launching a new start-up company, the benefits of cyberspace are multi-faceted. However, if the government continues its invasive practices of tracking people's activity and obtaining the information of thousands of users, the Internet could no longer be the transformational force that is has been.

The Day We Fight Back
February 11 marks the day that various parties on the Internet come together in solidarity against the NSA's spying program. Dubbed "The Day We Fight Back," the event was announced on the eve of the tragic death of Aaron Swartz, an online activist who fought to support democracy and individual civil liberties. He played an instrumental role in the movement that stopped the passing of SOPA in 2012.

The Day We Fight Back is being sponsored by a number of different organizations with some involvement on the Internet including Access, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reddit and Mozilla. Swartz was one of the co-founders of Demand Progress.

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

Stopping surveillance
When Edward Snowden initially leaked the information about the NSA programs, the world was shocked and horrified about just how extensive these policies infiltrated. However, as more information was digested, it became abundantly clear just how extensive these policies were.

This led to outrage on both a domestic and international level, as the ramifications of these policies spanned country borders. One of the more infamous examples of this can be seen in the wire tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone. Many feel that these are not just small infringements on the personal privacy but a systemic disregard for individual rights all together.

One group that has come out and condemned the program is the Internet Society's New York branch. The organization noted that there are a number of consequences from this action. International trust is threatened as companies and governments will be concerned about doing business in a country that is know for this practice. On top of this, it shows that much of the hardware that is supporting the Internet is "being contaminated" as it comes online.

"The chain of trust has been broken and the decisions we all make in response will be critical to the Internet's continued development," said Kathy Brown, the President and CEO of the Internet Society. "The Internet Society is committed to continuing its leadership across the Internet community to ensure the Internet is a trusted, global, and open platform for all participants."

Through efforts like The Day We Fight Back, activists are working to stop mass online surveillance.

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