Activism and Social Networking: Advocating for Online Privacy panel

By: Harry Waisbren

I have to admit, I’m more than a little excited for the Computers Freedom and Privacy conference starting next week!

Much more to come about specifically how Get FISA Right will be involved, but for the moment, I’d like to involve our community on a particularly pressing matter, namely, the presentation I will be giving during the Activism and Social Networking panel on Tuesday.

I spoke with Jon (who is co-chairing the conference) the other day, and we have come up with some broad strokes for how it will work, but there are many details that we would love your help filling in.

We decided to conduct our portion in a back and forth exchange with Shahid Buttar of the BORDC , as we will utilize a joint power point presentation to lay out our past successes, and then bridge back to where we are going together—especially how we are combining on the ground and online efforts as part of the local model legislation initiatives effort they are leading.

Where I could most use help is discerning the specifics of both what I’ll be talking about and what will show up in the slides (which will be available in real time if you care to watch).

Assuredly, we’ll be focusing on the original group gaining a large following, and how we collaborated to create an open letter, leading to our mainstream media coverage and Obama’s unprecedented response to the group. We will quickly discuss our recent efforts, as well as our trials and tribulations, and we can describe how we have dealt with communications challenges by employing a meeting-centric strategy  (catalogued extensively through transcript-style notes) to keep the group together enough to lead similar efforts in the future. This is a point of pride, although we may not spend too much time on it, as there are no other current groups that can take the lead in doing what we do, and we all should be proud that we have maintained this capacity!

Yet, it is precisely this capacity that is such a key point of conversation, as we’ll be utilizing our credibility to make recommendations for where we go from here. In particular, we will go over the social media toolkit we are building to complement BORDC’s on the ground efforts, and we’ll have many more details on this (especially how you can help construct it) soon enough.

Get FISA Right by its nature is a collaborative enterprise, so please, let us know what you think—both about the broad strokes as well as the specifics. Let’s make sure this will be a panel to remember!


8 Responses to Activism and Social Networking: Advocating for Online Privacy panel

  1. whole2th says:

    Though I’ve read all the organizational pep-talk, I still don’t know details like:

    Will America replicate the Israeli model for repression of dissent, including training in Israel of our law enforcement personnel in control and surveillance tactics of political activists in America as wholeheartedly supported by ADL and SPLC? (read section on Zionism & illegal government surveillance)

  2. Sallijane says:

    I’ve been thinking about “youse”; glad that we’re moving forward this way. The outline sounds great; how can we help on details? When is the live presentation, date and East Coast time? If I am free, I would certainly like to watch.

  3. harrywaisbren says:

    Glad we are in your thoughts, Sally!

    In terms of helping on details, I think it’s prioritizing what to cover, how much time to spend on those particular items, how we will phrase them, and then what graphics and content we will include on the individual power point slides discussing them.

    The panel is scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday at 1:15 PM PST / 4:15 EST.

    Presentation links and video feed seem like they’ll be organized on the panel’s page on the CFP wiki, though there isn’t much content there yet:

  4. harrywaisbren says:

    Some very good material to consider in Jon’s Oct. 29 post, Social network activism and the future of civil liberties:

    I’m going to copy and paste some of the most relevant segments representing the development of our thinking below:

    [despite getting rolled on the patriot act] the social network activism I discussed in Can Skittles fix the Patriot Act? and on the Get FISA Right blog highlights the opportunity to broaden and recharge the civil liberties community…

    [one of the highlighted tip] complement in-person local campaigns like People’s Campaign for the Constitution’s local ordinances and good ol’ fashioned letters-to-the-editor

    It’s a powerful narrative. Social network sites epitomize the wave of the future, Obama’s strength in 2008, and youth. They’re overwhelmingly in favor of civil liberties. And civil liberties supporters are getting organized there…

    The Get FISA Right poll matches well with the trends described in Jessica Vascalero’s Wall Street Journal article The End of the Email Era. Social networks are now as important a communication mechanism as email. Millennials in particular are very hard to involve via email…

    witter is a place to engage with women, people of color, migrant rights groups, and others who are marginalized from other forms of activism…

    social network sites provide a unique opportunity to engage with diverse audiences…

    Organizations like ACLU, EFF, and the Cato Institute are becoming increasingly effective at using social network sites. Combined with Get FISA Right and our allies, we have solid presences on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Organizing for America, Care2,, and in the progressive blogosphere.

    The challenge now is to leverage this strength and turn it to action….

    [one suggestion for action] As Chip Pitts, and Sarah Burris pointed out in comments on an earlier draft of this essay, social network activism is an ideal complement for and local in-person organizing. Somebody needs to take the lead on putting this all together – and then replicating it in all 50 states…

    Social network activism has proved very successful for civil liberties (Strange Bedfellows, Get FISA Right) and other causes (Jena, Join the Impact, the DREAM Act, Obama).

    Now’s the time to take things to the next level…

  5. harrywaisbren says:

    Ahh, of course, rereading, I had to have forgotten one of the most important parts as it relates to this panel at this year’s Computers Freedom and Privacy conference:

    The #1 recommendation from the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy “birds of a feather” session on New Strategies for Fighting FISA and the Patriot Act was to build a broad-based coalition — including students and migrant rights groups amongst others.

    Link to last year’s CFP FISA and Patriot Act strategy recommendations:

  6. harrywaisbren says:

    Here’s the link to Jon’s Oct. 4 post: Can Skittles help fix the PATRIOT Act and FISA?

    And some choice excerpts to consider:

    The basic idea’s straightforward: try to get enough momentum that the campaign goes viral on Twitter and Facebook, and then target some key politicians and journalists. At that point, hopefully traditional media wakes up and takes notice — and politicians are confronted with the overwhelming opposition online to the government surveillance and telecom immunity. With luck, it leads to a success like Get FISA Right had last summer organizing on with the support of progressive and technology blogospheres.

    Since then, there have a series of breakthrough social media actions on other issues: Join the Impact, #amazonfail, the DREAM Activists, Open for Questions, Twitter Vote Report, the Facebook Terms of Service protesters, #iranelection … and there’s a fascinating pattern: most of the people involved in all of these causes also care about fixing the PATRIOT Act and opposing government surveillance. Can we tap into those existing networks, and get people to spend a few moments tweeting, sharing links, and forwarding an invitations on Facebook and MySpace?…

    The easiest way to follow what’s going on will be to visit, where we’re also featuring the #patriotact Twitter feed.

    Hey, it worked for #skittles 🙂

  7. jon says:

    I’m excited too! We’re not sure yet whether or not the video for this session will be streamed (there’s another session at the same time on Privacy Choices Online); as Harry surmised, we’ll update the wiki page once we have the info — and we’ll try to post it on the blog here as well. In any case, we’ll have a Twitter backchannel on the #cfpconf hashtag; we’ll be posting instructions soon on how you can follow along even if you don’t have a Twitter account.

    Also, there’s a lot of other good stuff at CFP. We’ll be working on a Bill of Rights for Social Network Users, and there are sessions on Smart Grid, Healthcare IT Robots and Civil Liberties, Augmented Minds, Cybersecurity, the History of Cypherpunks, and more! See the introduction, media release and full conference program have more information.

  8. […] excited as I am about representing the Get FISA Right community at the Activism and Social Networking: Advocating for Online Privacy panel, I am particularly looking forward to helping prove that the Computers Freedom and Privacy […]

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