You might have seen it. The Internet is rising up against mass spying. We’re calling it TheDayWeFightBack.

TAKE ACTION: Visit TheDayWeFightBack Twitter Facebook

Coordinating this day of action has been a massive team effort, but we are some of the organizers who put this together, Ask Us Anything.

David Segal, co-founder of Demand Progress with Aaron Swartz = u/davidadamsegal

Katherine Maher, Access, Director of Strategy and Engagement, = u/krmaher

Evan Greer, Fight for the Future, Campaign Manager = u/fightforthefuture

Berin Szoka, TechFreedom, President = u/BerinSzoka

Sean Finnerty, Restore the Fourth, Operations Manager = u/Seanfromqueens

Yan, EFF = u/eff_yan , Parker, EFF = u/parkerEFF , Adi Kamdar, Activist at EFF = /u/adiEFF

Michelle, ACLU, = u/richardson_mich

Julie Borowski, FreedomWorks, Policy Analyst = u/JulieBorowski

Matt Simons, ThoughtWorks, Director of Social and Economic Justice, =u/mtsimons

Steve Anderson, Open Media, = u/steve-media

Arvin Vohra, Libertarian Party, = u/ArvinVohra

Danny O'Brien EFF, International Directior, = /u/dannyEFF

Thousands of websites, tens of thousands of users are standing up for the digital rights and demanding an end to broad suspicion-less surveillance. We are asking people to call Congress, send emails, change avatars, Tweet, whatever you can think of to participate.

For more on the February 11th day of action visit:

Dedicated subreddit here

Press release here

More Information: Two years ago, reddit and its users joined in fighting back against dangerous Internet censorship legislation during the SOPA protests. You blacked out your websites and started hundreds of creative campaigns to defeat a piece of legislation that threatened freedom on the Internet.

In the last 6 months we’ve seen that government agencies, namely the NSA and GCHQ and others, have broken laws and twisted legal interpretations to create an infrastructure of mass surveillance of all of us online. This creates a dark form of censorship as people become afraid to speak freely -- and it’s one that undermines our security and our right to privacy as well. As users of the Internet, we have a responsibility to defend its freedom.

Will you join us?

Proof: Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Libertarian Party, Access, FreedomWorks, EFF, TechFreedom, Eff_yan, Open Media


Thank you all for participating in this AMA. Please keep the tweets, emails and phone calls coming. Join us at [TheDayWeFightBack](

Comments: 1429 • Responses: 94  • Date: 

JohnReggae1761 karma

I went to your website and there is a request for me to enter my phone number and email address. Why, in response to surveillance and stolen data, would I trust you with my personal information?

A collection of phone numbers and emails of anti-surveillance dissidents could be exactly the kind of profile-building data that organizations like the NSA are known to backdoor out of organizations like yours. What are your offers of surety against stolen, or backdoored, data?

Are you actually collecting the information of dissidents and radicals for the NSA?

eff_yan892 karma

This is a fantastic point of view. Don't trust us! You can also call Congress without going through the site, or enter a one-time phone number (and use Tor).

eff_yan686 karma

Sorry, in case it wasn't clear, that was a totally serious reply. I think the Internet would be a much healthier place if there were less blind trust of site operators with users' personal data, given the frequency of catastrophic database breaches.

And more people should download and use Tor:

YewNork68 karma


eff_yan151 karma

Yep, Tor is definitely a target of traffic analysis for now, but this becomes harder when more people use Tor. So, start using Tor.

imnotlegolas27 karma

The thing is, I recently moved from Europe to the USA. I fear if I start using TOR the government here is going to think I am up to no good and start snooping around in my private life even more. Is that weird of me?

eff_yan36 karma

There's legitimate reasons to not use Tor, and I think this is one of them (meaning, I would try to not get Tor tied to my actual identity if I were in this situation). But I'd still feel fine with using Tor through a good VPN from a network not usually associated with me.

dasMetzger14 karma

Could you expand on that last part of your comment? I use a vpn for one of my computers... but it's connected to the rest of my computers on my home network. Am I doing it wrong?

eff_yan25 karma

Sure. It's best to use Tor through a VPN that has other people using it at the same time (preferably using Tor as well) in order to make traffic correlation attacks more difficult. ISPs can otherwise see when you're using Tor and how much data you're sending (roughly). You should assume that gov. agencies can see whatever ISPs can and more if they're controlling Tor nodes.

digitalpencil26 karma

I have read several alarming pieces regarding the integrity of current anonymity and encryption technologies, including Tor/SSL/TLS/SSH.

As I understand it, Tor is under active attack with exit nodes being poisoned to allow for traffic analysis, and determine the source/destination of traffic. SSL, compromised by projects such as BULLRUN and EDGEHILL.


  • For the past decade, NSA has lead an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies
  • Cryptanalytic capabilities are now coming on line
  • Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable
  • Major new processing systems, SIGDEV efforts and tasking must me put in place to capitalize on this opportunity

We understand from these disclosures that a massive dragnet is hoovering up all traffic everywhere and that these technologies, pushed by privacy advocates are at worst, compromised and at best, under active attack. What, in your opinion, is the state of the integrity of these systems?

Can SSL/Tor be trusted at all?

eff_yan49 karma

It's safe to assume that NOTHING will protect you against a targeted attack by the NSA, given our lack of knowledge about how much more advanced their cryptanalytic capabilities are than anything known to the public.

But targeted attacks are expensive, whereas passively monitoring a plaintext HTTP connection is virtually free.

So protect yourself however you can and drive up those costs.

Using TLS/SSL everywhere is one of the only surefire ways we know of to stay ahead in this cat-and-mouse game. You can argue that it's useless if NSA has control of every root certificate authority, but that's a fixable problem in the short-term future (when widespread adoption of certificate pinning becomes a thing).

fightforthefuture192 karma

I agree with folks at EFF that everyone should have a healthy distrust when they share their personal data online! If you don't want the NSA to know that you're against them, you probably shouldn't sign a petition, call your reps, or take any other public form of protest against them.

Then again, if you DO want them to know that their days of illegal surveillance are numbered, then be brave and speak out. Activist organizations make all kinds of tools that make it easier to contact your representatives. Feel free to use them or not.

But if we all remain silent because we're too afraid to speak out, then we've already lost, and surveillance has done it's job of completely censoring public conversation and dissent.

Given that #StopTheNSA is trending on twitter right now, though, I think you'll be in good company if you speak out against the spying today.

parkerEFF69 karma

You can take all the same actions without providing a phone number or any other information to any of the groups involved. (You may have to identify yourself to your legislator.) Here's info on how to do that.

2wischen2ug208 karma

What is the single most effective thing, besides raising awareness, that an individual can do to help?

fightforthefuture172 karma

Definitely make those phone calls! Talk to your friends and family about surveillance and how it affects them. Make this THE issue of 2014 -- it's not only critical for our freedom, but it's a movement where victory is within reach.

thefunivehad89 karma

Definitely make those phone calls!

this is going to sound dumb, but what do i say once someone answers the phone?

"hello, i'm against surveillance."

"anything else, sir?"

"umm, no...that's about it."


fightforthefuture68 karma

If you use the tool at you'll get a sample script of what to say. But your little exchange above is pretty much it. You just call, say your piece, and a staffer will take a note of your position. That's about it! Takes a minute or so.

eff_yan87 karma

Call Congress if you're in the U.S. You can do this with a few clicks at

parkerEFF67 karma

Seconding Yan here. I know it's easier to send an email, but calls are extremely effective in DC. Calls will send a clear message about the bills on the table, but also remind legislators how many people are watching their response to mass surveillance issues.

If you're outside the US, we've put together an action around our Necessary & Proportionate principles, along with hundreds of other organizations, to make clear that mass surveillance is out of line with existing human rights laws.

ArvinVohra24 karma

  1. Vote for candidates who will pledge to sponsor legislation to end the NSA.
  2. Refuse to vote for anyone else.

mtsimons12 karma

As an individual, today you should make calls. Long-term, you should commit to educating yourself about secure on-line communication and start making choices that help increase the ratios of encrypted internet traffic. Use Tor. Learn how to use PGP for email. Pay attention as viable alternatives to mainstream, commercial communications tools become available and invest in making the switch.

nielsbulskov185 karma

Why didn't I hear about this until today?

billbaggins34 karma

There were no reddit posts about this until today. For being a reddit sponsored movement something smells fishy

krmaher38 karma

Thanks for the feedback! We've been working hard at getting the message out on social media and elsewhere, but sometimes it's hard to ensure that everyone is aware of our efforts ahead of time. has been up for about a month now, and you can see our Facebook page has also been up since January 10th...

lecheez157 karma

What do you actually expect to happen because of this? I like the protest, but I don't think there will be much of an impact

eff_yan172 karma

I don't personally think it's realistic to expect a single event to change the course of history when mass surveillance is so deeply entrenched in how the US government operates; in that sense, I agree with you that there will probably be less of a measurable impact than the SOPA/PIPA protests. But, raising awareness of the issues and getting more people to become angry about them is a crucial first step. This is going to be a long battle.

On the other hand, calling Congress does have a HUGE impact on how much our representatives think that we oppose mass surveillance. It's 7 AM here on the US west coast, and there have been 11.5k calls placed through I bet that's more than average. :)

GoodFightSon79 karma

I am a young but very politically curious Englishman. Compared to the NSA, how large are GCHQ's operations and what's the most effective thing I can do to limit their intrusion on privacy here in the UK?

dannyEFF29 karma

Hi, GFS! I helped start the Open Rights Group in the UK. It, along with a coalition of some of the other most influential privacy groups in the country, launched Don't Spy On Us today, specifically to fight mass surveillance in the UK. They're all great groups to join and work with.

krmaher13 karma

Seconding @DannyEFF! The other orgs you'll want to get to know in the UK include English PEN, Privacy International, Article 19, Liberty, and Big Brother Watch. You may also want to learn about the lawsuit ORG, PEN, and BBW have filed against GCHQ for violation of EU and UK citizens' privacy rights.

OntogenyRecapsWhat78 karma


r_d_olivaw119 karma

It's true that private companies are collecting a lot of data on you, but as even President Obama acknowledged in his NSA speech, companies don't have the power to arrest you, throw you in jail, tax you, etc. The government has a lot of unique powers that make its surveillance much worse than companies'.

eff_yan42 karma

Yes, that's a great point.

windsostrange19 karma

I really wish EFF was more open about the private sector's role in collecting and mining this data instead of making it a purely "beware your government"-type message.

(Edit: I'm getting a lot of thoughtful replies to this. Definitely read further for those interested in digital privacy.)

adiEFF16 karma

This is definitely something we're aware of, especially as the lines between the private sector and the government become blurred (e.g. service providers as honeypots, gov't purchasing information from data brokers, etc.)

On the private sector end, we're also pushing for reform like meaningful encryption and standing up for user privacy.

OntogenyRecapsWhat13 karma


eff_yan31 karma

This is true, but we speak out against Google whenever we get a chance, pretty much. Ex:

We're focusing on NSA so much recently because they're honestly much more of a threat to users than Google. We can reason with Google about their privacy policies, and they'll listen to us. NSA doesn't have a privacy policy.

magicbullets73 karma

What is the best way of fighting political apathy?

JulieBorowski81 karma

Make it personal! People want to know how exactly government policies affect THEM. Pretty much everyone hates the idea of someone else reading their private emails and going through their Internet browsing history (or else passwords wouldn't exist...)

eff_yan20 karma

Social pressure. Make it normal to expect the average person in your social group to be educated and have opinions on political issues. Discuss them.

SAMO141567 karma

Can you edit your post to have line breaks between people, please?

eff_yan46 karma

Yeah, I would like this too but I'm not sure if Nathan is checking out this comment right now.

jameschriss58 karma

Is there anything we can do from Canada? Or other countries? It seems your campaign is focused on the US only.

adiEFF50 karma

There's lots you can do! Check out the Canada-specific action here:

As far as the rest of the world, you can speak out in favor of the 13 Principles against mass surveillance.

karmanaut48 karma

How would you reform the current structure so that these agencies are still able to effectively detect threats?

parkerEFF45 karma

The truth is, the mass surveillance we're talking about—the worst kind of blanket collection of personal information—hasn't been effective at detecting threats. When the phone records program started getting more national attention with the Snowden leaks last summer, the NSA was claiming it's essential, but there's been tons of evidence since then that it's not effective at all.

When it comes to mass surveillance, we're not being asked to give up a little liberty for a little security, as Ben Franklin advised against. Instead, we're being asked to give up our liberties, and aren't getting anything in return.

RottMaster41 karma

Even if some bill or amendment is passed there is basically no way to confirm that they have stopped

mtsimons17 karma

That is also why we must rally behind Snowden, Greenwald, Scahill and other courageous whistleblowers and journalists. In the current scenario of massive over-classification of supposedly "public" activities we are very dependent on individuals to provide the necessary checks on secret power.

ravendta38 karma

With SOPA, there was a piece of legislation out there that could be either supported or opposed. So when many of us blacked out our sites, there was a definitive response we demanded - and surprisingly - received.

Is there currently a bill to end all civilian surveillance (internet included) that we can support? If so, is there an easy place where we can find the people who oppose this bill so that we can flood their offices with calls and emails similar to SOPA?

parkerEFF46 karma

There's no "silver bullet" bill that makes all the fixes we need, but there's a bad proposal on the table that we have to stop, and there's a good bill that deserves support (even though we recognize it can't be the last word).

The bad bill that we have to stop was introduced by Senator Feinstein, and would actually codify some of the worst mass surveillance, not stop it. In typical political doublespeak, it's pitched as "The FISA Improvements Act," even though it will make things worse.

The bill we're supporting is called the USA FREEDOM Act, which makes important steps towards fixing some of the worst problems.

All of these points, and how to take action, are laid out in the call and email widgets up at participating sites and The Day We Fight Back.

One note: I'm from EFF, so these links are from our resources, but a bunch of the other organizers have good ones.

JulieBorowski27 karma

We are supporting the USA Freedom Act. S. 1599 in the Senate, H.R. 3361 in the House. It would tighten section 215 of the Patriot Act to limit the bulk collection of records on Americans. It would allow companies to report how many requests they get from government to share information, mandate the government publish how many people are subject to surveillance orders, and reveal secret significant FISA Court opinions to the public. It's not a perfect bill but it's a great step in the right direction. Here is a list of cosponsors in the House: And Senate:

eff_yan15 karma

We're pushing for the USA Freedom Act to include stronger protection against mass surveillance. It's not an end-all solution, but it's a first step worth supporting. You can go to to read more and flood the Congress telephone lines. :)

fightforthefuture9 karma

Agree with everyone else here. The USA Freedom Act is just a beginning, but it's an important step in the right direction. What's important, though, is once we pass it we keep pushing for deeper change, and educating ourselves about the many technological options for circumventing surveillance and making it more difficult and expensive. This is a battle that must be fought on many fronts: technology, legislation, and grassroots resistance.

internet_avenger31 karma

How can we continue to contribute to this movement after today is over?

For the artists, videographers, photographers, etc. out there, is there a way to submit works created to spread the word on this movement?

fightforthefuture22 karma

This is a great question! There will be many more actions in the coming months to keep the pressure on from The Day We Fight back and end mass surveillance once and for all. We at FFTF are planning a major event this spring called Reset the Net, where websites across the Internet will unveil new privacy technology to protect their users from spying, and we will use our collective voice to engage in mass education about privacy practices and tools that individuals can use to protect themselves.

The movement ALWAYS needs art, video, and music! Please stay in touch with the organizations listed here and send us ideas and content to share! Feel free to send anything to me personally: [email protected]

Rysdna30 karma

While these "fighting back" attempts are well organized and effective, what can we do to begin a more permanent solution to these constant attempts to change the way the Internet works?

fightforthefuture35 karma

We started the Internet Defense League after the SOPA fight for this express purpose: -- it's a longterm network of thousands of websites who work together to sound the alarm whenever there are major threats or opportunities for the open Internet.

BerinSzoka22 karma

I will caution everyone here that what we're trying to do isn't to "stop the NSA" (a hashtag being used for this event) or "defund the NSA" (an activist website from a few months ago) in general, but to stop/defund the NSA's blanket surveillance that is not based on suspicion that particular people have a connection to a real national security threat.

That distinction is essential if we're going to succeed in actually changing surveillance. If our message is heard as simple NSA-bashing, it will be dismissed out of hand as naive.

The fact is that the NSA and other surveillance agencies DO play a vital role in protecting us from real national security threats -- just as police protect us from theft, violence etc. But to quote Ramon Vargas, the honest Mexican policeman played so brilliantly by Charlton Heston in the 1958 classic movie "Touch of Evil": "A policeman's job is only easy in a police state."

qqitsdennis17 karma

Julie I've been following you for a while now and just wanted to say hello and thank you for making positive messages in a way that engages people of any political ideology.

JulieBorowski16 karma

Thank you! Yes, it's great how the Day We Fight Back has brought together people from across the political spectrum.

Mutt122316 karma

In a poll, a candidates stance on internet privacy and censorship probably ranks low on people's list of requirements for an elected official. What do you think will need to happen for this to change?

krmaher5 karma

An easy way for this to change is for people who care about these issues to communicate their concerns to their Congresspeople. If enough people tell Senators and Members of Congress that this matters to them, more MoCs and Senators will start paying attention: that's just constituent politics. A good reason to make a call today!

Another thing that helps is by supporting organizations like those who have helped organize TheDayWeFightBack. Its our jobs to make sure that your elected representatives are paying attention to this as a policy issue, and to ensure the media is covering their responses. The more that these issues are a matter of public debate, the more pressure there is for politicians to have a position on them. And once you have a position, its much easier to make that position into an election issue -- meaning it begins to matter!

en1gmatical13 karma

What can we do to remove the stereotype that all the people who care about this are neckbeards in their parents basement?

eff_yan17 karma

Regardless of whether that particular stereotype is a real one, this seems to hit on a point: a lot of the people who care the most about protecting themselves from mass surveillance are white male tech-savvy people. (Based on personal observation, which of course may be biased. I'm particularly sensitive to this because I'm often in the minority as someone who is not male.)

I regard this as a point of failure on the part of pro-encryption activists. Sure, it's easier to learn to use GPG if you've been using the command line since age 12, which is also a disproportionately white and male group of people. But encryption matters for a lot of people outside of the technological elite: journalists, activists, domestic violence victims, and so forth. And we haven't done enough to reach out to them.

JulieBorowski10 karma

I don't have a neck beard :)

damionhellstrom10 karma

Thank you for doing this. I made my call to my senator! Keep the pressure on!

JulieBorowski4 karma

Thank you for being involved!

wakeupmaggi310 karma

First of all thanks! I've been a supporter of EFF for many years and probably bore people to tears by referring them back to your site. I have two questions:

  1. What if I'm not registered to vote? If I call or write an email will my input be given any weight?

  2. Although it wouldn't help on this particular day what would you think about a letter writing campaign?

I know it's more effort than most people want to apply but these offices aren't really equipped anymore to handle a massive quantity of snail mail (I would think).

Don't they have to open and read each one? Even if one just copy and pasted text the time would be well spent. Just a thought. Political people give a great deal of weight to opinions of the physical mail they receive and the support staff required to process it alone would garner attention.

adiEFF8 karma

Thanks for your support, wakeupmaggi3!

  1. You don't have to be registered! You're still represented, and you're still a constituent.

  2. A letter-writing campaign sounds awesome. You're totally right that snail mail makes a huge impact—it's often difficult to mobilize a bunch of people to whip out their stationery and stamps, but I think it's a great idea!

ragehippo12241210 karma

I made a call and left a message, should I have spoken to a real person? One of the representatives had a live person taking messages and I got a bit flustered, but I'm sure the point got across!

krmaher5 karma

That's awesome! It can be a little intimidating at first to talk to a real person, but chances are they were just as flustered the first time they had to take a call from a constituent!

JulieBorowski15 karma

There are many, many ways to have an impact. Calls to reps do help. Letters to the editor in local newspapers are also a great way to have an impact. The letters to the editor is the most read section in any newspaper and many people in the largest voting demographic (senior citizens) still read it everyday. Reps will freak out and hopefully change their ways if there is any negativity towards them in the local newspaper.

adiEFF8 karma

Julie's totally right: there are lots of ways to take action! Op-eds have huge impact, but so do calls. Take it from Sen. Wyden:

MuchoMachoNacho3 karma

What was it personally that pushed you over the edge to go about and organize this?

fightforthefuture7 karma

Great question. I think all of us have had the experience -- since the Snowden revelations -- of being about to hit "send" on an email or "post" on social media and hesitating. Thinking to ourselves: who else might see this beyond who I intend? What might happen to me because of that?

That split-second of hesitation is an insidious form of censorship.

We at FFTF have been on the front lines fighting for free speech online since before SOPA. We don't see privacy as a new issue for us. We can't have free speech without privacy. Without free speech, we have no democracy.