Internet Defense League to send out “Cat Signal” on July 4!

July 1, 2013

The Internet Defense League's Cat Signal

Grassroots Internet users have organized Restore the Fourth protests on the ground all over the U.S. on the 4th of July. Building off the energy of the coalition (which now has over 500,000 signers), and aiming to amplify the protests on the ground, we’re raising the Internet Defense League’s “Cat Signal” on July 4th, asking websites and organizations to show call out the NSA by displaying the text of the 4th Amendment.

— Mail from the Internet Defense League

The IDL came together as part of the SOPA battle, a mix of tech companies and non-profits, and created the “cat signal” to alert internet users across the world when it’s time to speak out to defend the internet.  With tech companies like Mozilla, Reddit, and WordPress, civil liberties non-profits like EFF, Open Congress, and Public Knowledge, and highly viral allies like Cheezeburger and Fark, it’s reach is mighty.

The Cat Signal will be raised at midnight on July 4th and will turn off at midnight on July 5th. We’ll send out campaign specific code on Tuesday, for those who just want to participate in this action, but what we need you to do right now is help spread the word. We need to ramp this up and get everyone on board. If you have Twitter or Facebook, click the link, if not, please blog, share, call your friends and tell them. This is going to be epic, so get everyone.

Epic!  The Internet Defense League says this will be their biggest protest since SOPA … sounds good to me!  Fight for the Future’s Join the Protest page has a lot more information about how you can get involved — including putting the fourth amendment up on your blog or web site, another Thunderclap on Twitter and Facebook for July 4, and of course Restore the Fourth‘s protests around the country.   Not to sound like a broken record or anything, but a big difference between now and 2008 is that thanks to the SOPA and CISPA battles, the tech/civil liberties partnerships has been reinvigorated.  Go internet!

This is a watershed moment for our basic rights to free speech, freedom of association, and privacy

Yeah really.  So please pass the word, and please get involved!

How to protest against NSA surveillance on Fourth of July

July 1, 2013

BORDC: Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeThe Bill of Rights Defense Committee has an excellent post on How to protest against NSA surveillance on Fourth of July, with all kinds of tips and considerations for holding a high-impact, engaging protest. Some of the topics it covers: getting the word out, attracting press, signs and music at the protest, legal issues, and practical concerns like water and sunscreen.

Extremely useful information — check it out!

And if you’re looking for a protest in your area, check out the Restore the Fourth website as well!

Update: scarletsaint, an organizer for the DC rally, has some excellent thoughts on what to bring, what to wear, and what expect.

Help publicize the July 4 rallies using Thunderclap!

June 26, 2013

RestoreThe4thMomentum continues to build for Restore the Fourth’s grassroots rallies on July 4th — check out Rand Paul’s video here! and their home on reddit have information about the rallies.  Whether or not you’re able to attend in person, you can help get the word out on Facebook and Twitter using Thunderclap.

Thunderclap is an interesting approach to getting visibility on social media.  People sign up in advance, and at a specified time the same tweet and status post goes out from everybody all at once.  Restore the Fourth’s Thunderclap has already attracted supporters like Fight for the Future with a lot of followers … the more the merrier!

So please, join in!

How to celebrate Get FISA Right’s birthday?

June 20, 2013

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26 2008 with posts by Mardi S on and Mike Stark on OpenLeft … which means that Wednesday is our 5th birthday.  Hooray!

How to celebrate?

Please share your thoughts here!  Or, if you prefer, in our Google+ community, our Facebook group, or on Twitter.


PS: image credit: “Bill’s Birthday Cake”, by Cattoo, via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

GFR June 16 phone conference

June 19, 2013
 This will be more of a general synopsis of the meeting than the detailed one for the June 12th meeting. Detailed “PiratePad” notes are here; links mentioned during the conversation are gathered here. Please feel free to use comments below to contribute to this conversation! 
Attendees: John Bachir, Sally Gellert, jon pincus, Harry Waisbren, John Quarterman, Jim Burrows, Thomas Nephew
Catching up:  John and Jim updated others on what they’re up to (NSF project on spam; communications systems for first responders, VP of Engineering at Silent Circle, respectively).  Both remain active in writing about and/or being active about surveillance and other issues.

Outreach: Harry is in touch with organizers of ‘I Stand with Edward Snowden‘ rallies in NY. Deciding next steps.  Harry’s suggesting a similar path to what they did with SOPA — NY Tech Meetup getting people involved who wouldn’t be otherwise. Jon went to a few Restore the 4th meetings; a lot of energy, make almost exclusive use of Reddit.  Thomas reported on the MCCRC/Washington Peace Center DC protest (video, some alternative media coverage).

Legislation: Propose we do what we did in the past: discussion on blog about whether we endorse, then phoning / writing congress / etc. 3 bills on the way:

Corporate involvement in problem: FB and Microsoft released full # of government requests, and might be telling the truth. Latest technical speculation is that there’s a meta-data base in addition to PRISM, taking directly from providers; this could provide a lot of info without directly going to the companies. Marcy Wheeler also saw some quotes that show that they are getting this data under some other theory.

Continuing discussion of where could GFR add value: possibilities include… Read the rest of this entry »

Thousands Prepare to Protest Nationwide on July 4th for Fourth Amendment Rights

June 19, 2013

RestoreThe4thRestore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement that seeks to organize and assemble nationwide protests on July 4th, 2013. Protesters in over 100 cities across America will gather to demand that the government of the United States adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. provides a detailed list of protest locations.

Restore the Fourth’s press release

Just like in 2008, there’s a lot of grassroots opposition to the NSA’s surveillance on social networks.  Restore the Fourth started on Reddit, and with their well-run daily IRC meetings has been making impressive progress.  They wrote their just-issued press release collaboratively, much as Get FISA Right did back in the day with our open letter to Obama and video scripts.Restore the 4th stands with EFF and (and Get FISA Right and the ACLU and BORDC and reddit and the other 100+ signers) on the call to Congress to reform the FISA Amendments Act and Section 215 of the Patriot Act, appoint a special committee to investigate, and hold public officials accountable.   The July 4th demonstrations seek to demand an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government and to ensure that all future government surveillance is constitutional, limited, and clearly defined.  So check out their site to see if any of the 77 protests currently in planning are near you … and get involved!

An invitation!

June 18, 2013
Get FISA Right on an Obamaesque circle

Get FISA Right’s 2008 logo.

With the recent disclosures about NSA surveillance, the issues we talked about during Get FISA Right’s birth in 2008 are back in the spotlight.   There are some big differences, though.  The FISA Amendment Act passed.  We now know a lot more about what the NSA has actually been doing, enough to see that the concerns we voiced about the lack of meaningful oversight and the potential for very broad orders allowing bulk collection of huge amounts of data were on target.   The political situation has changed, so civil liberties are a much more bipartisan issue in Congress.   The successful battle against SOPA and CISPA show the potential for online civil liberties activism.  The list goes on …

So as part of the revived discussions of FISA, the Patriot Act, and government surveillance, Get FISA Right would like to invite our members from 2008 to share their thoughts today. For example:

  • what the same and what’s changed: how the landscape is and isn’t different from 2008
  • told you so!”: how what people said during the 2008 FISA Amendment Act battle and the subsequent Patriot Act and FISA reauthorizations have been borne out by events since
  • “wow, even I didn’t suspect that…” : things about recent revelations (including the Verizon court order, PRISM, and BOUNDLESS INFORMANT) that have surprised or shocked even you
  • what we can learn: even though our efforts haven’t yet led to significant changes, there’s a lot to build on.  What’s worked well?  What should we be doing differently?

If we can get enough momentum to get media attention, it’s a great opportunity to reinforce the great organizing that so many others are doing by highlighting the July 4 protests Restore the Fourth is organizing and‘ email and calling campaign.

We welcome contributions in various ways:

  • Leave a comment here on the blog, in our Facebook group, or our Google+ community — or if it’s really short, just tweet it to us at @GetFISARight.
  • If you’ve got more to say, write a blog post and share the link with us.
  • Make a short video, and we’ll add it to our Youtube channel and share it with our community

We’d like to get things started around the middle of next week — stay tuned for details on the exact time.

Please join us and get involved!

Who Are We?

June 18, 2013

As we regroup after 5 years, we think of our original description—a proud group of Obama supporters. Yes, we were!
We were because, at the end of President G. W. Bush‘s 2 terms, we had Hope; we wanted Change. The candidate expressed concern with, and a goal of ending, the ever-more-imperial presidency.  We congratulated the president on his election—with a television ad that we ran in the Washington, D.C. area, saying in effect, “We continued to support you; please make good on your promises and fix the FISA Act.” Five years later,we mostly feel that the current administration has proved unworthy of our early support; we were too optimistic and trusting.
I wonder how many of us were comfortable enough with his record to support Mr. Obama in 2012? By March 2010, the group had changed enough to rewrite our mission statement; the new version described us as a proud group of informally affiliated individuals who supported President Obama during his candidacy in large part because of his call for hope and a new kind of politics. I suspect that in the last presidential election, many of us were looking to Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, or another third-party candidate for real change. However, there was still some work being done to bring the Democrats back on board; in December 2011, some of us took to the Organizing for America offices to discuss the NDAA renewal with campaign volunteers (for instance, see
Now, just 10 months later, the graphic image atop this blog is a disturbing map of metadata collection for analysis, by country, leaked to the world from the NSA’s Bountiful Informant program by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
So we ask, Who are we today? We had a poll here (for the record, 2 unafilliated, 1 each Libertarian, Occupier, and Other—who says we are not diverse?  or unconventional?), but the poll’s wording really made it appear as though we were suggesting that we are our political-party identity.  Not true, not even close to true—for all the polarization of late, for all the “Red Team/Blue Team” name-calling that goes on, we hearken back to the days when alliances were formed along lines of position on issues, not necessarily nor automatically in alignment with an individual’s party.  We feel that that was a better way—and we call on our fellow citizens to demand it of those in and running for office.

FISA Amendments Act Redux

May 27, 2012

The FISA Amendments Act is back, and our candidate from 2008 is sadly acting true to the form he established, which caused so many of us such distress back then. As he voted in July 2008, so now he is asking for full reauthorization of warrantless wiretapping. See the following article for details:

Here is a petition to sign and forward (Thanks, ACLU!)

Time to get active again!

Patriot Act organizing: notes and action items from February 9 call

February 9, 2011

Another productive call.  Thanks to Jim, Chip, Kelli, Julian, Shahid, Sally, and Marci — and to Michelle, who wasn’t there in person but was sending us legislative updates by email.

The House will once again be voting on HR 514. in a “closed vote” (that is, no amendments can be offered), this time setting aside an entire hour for debate.  The House will vote on the rule tomorrow, and vote on the bill sometime next week.  Meanwhile in the Senate, the Republicans are positioning Feinstein’s S.289 (also known as S.149) as a compromise betweeen Leahy’s S.193 (also known as S.290) and  Grassley’s S.291.  Confusingly, none of those match HR 514’s timeline, so it’s quite possible we’ll see another Senate bill as well.

The complicated legislative situation makes it complicated for activism as well.  In the short term, we want to continue to focus opposition against HR514 and S.289.  There’s a range of opinions on Leahy: it is better than the other bills, but far short of what we want.  EFF and ALA are supporting it; Downsize DC opposes it.  Over the next few days, Get FISA Right vote on whether or not to endorse Leahy, using a similar process to our vote in early 2009 on a special prosecutor.

Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeBORDC will be soft-launching a campaign on POPVOX late this week, with a full-fledged launch probably on Monday.  One of the biggest ways people can help is by trawling through the comments on the POPVOX site, rating them with the user feedback mechanism, and sending the most powerful ones to local media and bloggers.  If you’ve got some time available, please let us know by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook wall.

We’re scheduling a “Day of Action” for Monday (great suggestion from Patrick).  Before then we’ll want to collect raw material for bloggers (for example statements and videos from Ron and Rand Paul, Kucinic who else?) and instructions for how people can help on Facebook and Twitter.   Between now and then we’ll be refining the way we’re using POPVOX: BORDC will take the lead in setting up their ‘Legislative agenda’ and landing pages, and then other organizations can use that as a starting point.

Read the rest of this entry »