You’ve probably read some recent headlines on r/technology and r/news about the US Senate voting to allow the American government to continue spying on everyone’s Internet activity without a warrant. Unfortunately, it’s 100% true and it’s 1,000% awful. But we have a chance to stop it from happening. Support from tens of thousands of people across America convinced House leadership to schedule a vote on important privacy protections this Wednesday.

If you want to help save Internet privacy, you can visit SaveInternetPrivacy.org where you can send an email to your lawmakers asking them to save Internet privacy. You can also call Nancy Pelosi’s office directly 1 (202) 930-8115 and ask her to save Internet privacy by supporting the Wyden-Daines amendment.

There’s a lot of momentum behind this political movement. Tech companies like Reddit, Mozilla, and Twitter have all signed on to an open letter demanding that Congress support common-sense privacy protections. And a lot of lawmakers really want this amendment to pass. To make that happen, they need to know that this issue is very important to a lot of people just like you and me. So visit SaveInternetPrivacy.org now and tell them how you feel.

We are:

We’re happy to answer any of your questions about the Wyden-Daines amendment, the dangers of Internet surveillance, or whatever else you’d like to know. Ask us anything!

Comments: 573 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

Naerwyn323 karma

How does this differ from the Patriot Act?

fightforthefuture117 karma

In short, this doesn't differ from the PATRIOT Act at all because it IS the PATRIOT Act.

A slightly longer explanation is that the USA FREEDOM Act was passed in 2015 to replace and modify certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Congress is now voting to reauthorize the USA FREEDOM Act, but privacy advocates like are demanding that Congress amend this awful law to ensure that people like you and me are protected from government abuse.

hafnasty136 karma

If this measure doesn't pass and snowballs into even more warrantless servailance, how would you advise everyday people to "hide" our activities? Do we resort to a VPN? Or is there a more full proof blanketed method of protection?

Edit: meant to ask if it didn't pass

fightforthefuture164 karma

To be clear, the measure we are hoping to pass (called the Wyden-Daines amendment in the Senate and the Lofgren-Davidson amendment in the House) will prevent further warrantless surveillance AND rein in existing warrantless surveillance.

If this amendment doesn't pass, using a VPN may not necessarily help you, as the government will be collecting bulk data from VPN IP addresses as well as personal IP addresses.

MetalKamina47 karma

How can we fight against the increasing "don't worry if you have nothing to hide" mentality?

fightforthefuture11 karma

By doing what we are doing right now. Look in this thread and see how many people are asking why we need privacy. Engage in good faith. Let them know why it's important to you. You won't change everybody's mind. And when you do change people's minds, you might never even know it. But it's super important to talk to our friends, families, and Internet strangers about why our rights are so valuable.

Parris01a36 karma

Why would these bills be harmful to anyone who isn’t doing anything wrong

(This isn’t my line of thinking. Just wanting someone who actually knows what they’re talking about to give their view)?

fightforthefuture114 karma

The government has used the PATRIOT Act and related laws to justify spying on journalists, racial justice activists, and hundreds of millions of ordinary people. When our law enforcement and intelligence agents have the ability to snoop into every detail of our lives, they can use those details to suppress political speech and prevent people from organizing to demand change from the government.

On a personal level, we've seen law enforcement officers abuse their access to spy on romantic interests, business partners, neighbors and more. When people -- particularly people in a position of authority -- have access to your medical information, sexual preference, and reading lists, they can embarrass you, harass you, and control you.

These are the reasons why our speech and our privacy are protected by the Constitution. There are simply too many dangers that result from granting government access into every aspect of our lives to list. So even though I can easily justify the need for digital privacy, I shouldn't need to.

NorCalAthlete42 karma

Here’s a brief outline using every day objects as examples:

Timmy loves playing baseball. Timmy is 12 years old. Timmy has a computer.

Timmy also loves video games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

So far, so good - a bit questionable for Timmy’s parents to let him play Grand Theft Auto, but not illegal.

An incident happens. Violent protests take place, where protestors are often armed with baseball bats as makeshift weapons. Politicians who think “we have to do SOMETHING” make baseball bats illegal to purchase without a license and background check.

Thanks to these warrantless searches, Timmy’s computer history triggers an automatic flag, having searched for baseball bats to purchase along with having viewed / looked up different models of firearms (due to curiosity after playing Call of Duty). He also has rather adult search terms resulting from curiosity of stuff he didn’t understand in Grand Theft Auto, but wanted to look up.

This leads to a no-knock raid on Timmy’s house from police thinking they have a rioter gearing up to conduct a mass shooting. In the process, they shoot the family dog, and Timmy’s dad is thrown in jail for a few days for obstruction when he shouted “what the fuck is going on” at the cops.

Timmy’s family now has no dog, several thousand dollars in legal defense fees, a broken doorway, and PTSD from having their dog shot.

———

Yes, I took this hypothetical scenario to extremes, but every single thing I mentioned HAS happened before, though not necessarily all at once and all connected like this. That’s why stuff like this can be harmful even if you’re doing nothing wrong - because mistakes happen and this opens the door for a fuckton more mistakes to happen within an already flawed system.

fightforthefuture9 karma

This is far more realistic that the hypothetical scenario that the Senate Judiciary Committee argued would result if we don't let the government spy on everyone.

gaspara1123 karma

There is nearly 0 harm to anyone who isn't doing anything wrong.

But the ideals of The American Way are that any erosion of freedom should occur because there is a massive need to erode it whose magnitude is proportional to the amount of freedom given up.

The fact of the matter is these bills give up a bit of freedom for very little gained in safety from terrorists which is/was the need pointed to as the reason to erode the freedom.

Freedom given up is quite difficult to get back as it only takes a few (in this case classified) examples of the erosion succeeding in increased safety to convince legislators it is doing its job and should remain.

fightforthefuture5 karma

Government surveillance is currently resulting in racial oppression and hunting down whistleblowers. That's not "nearly 0 harm to anyone who isn't doing anything wrong."

Popular-Uprising-31 karma

I absolutely support this, and I'm calling. I don't really expect her to listen, but it's worth it to try.

Is there any way for us to volunteer or help in other ways?

fightforthefuture39 karma

Thanks for calling. And for everyone else reading this comment 1 (202) 930-8115. We'll connect you to the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and your lawmakers so you can tell them:

I urge you to support the Lofgren-Davidson privacy amendment to the PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill. Do not kill it. Do not weaken it. The government should never spy on my Internet activity without a warrant.

So call today. Keep calling. Tell your friends and family to call. I believe the most important things to do are:

- Paying attention to what's happening

- Contacting your lawmakers' offices often

- Spreading the word to your friends and family about why this is important and encourage them to take action

And don't wait around for someone like me to tell you how to volunteer. If you can rally one friend or one stranger to participate, you are an activist. Learn by doing, and do as much as you can!

triangleimar31 karma

Do you have a recommendation for a secure instant messaging program, alternative to say -WhatsApp or facebook messenger?

Are our mobile plan texting services and IMessage vulnerable as well? -assuming so.

fightforthefuture72 karma

Tough to give an answer to that. I personally use Signal for much of my communication, and *I feel fairly comfortable* with their end-to-end encryption for most of my needs. Your needs may change depending on your situation. Are you blowing the whistle on a powerful person or organization that is performing illegal activity? Are you protecting your messages from an abusive family member who lives with you? Be as tech-savvy as you can. Read some blogs. Chat with others about what they do. Use VPNs, encrypted messaging apps, and password protection services when you can.

But note that Attorney General William Barr, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and many others in our government are working overtime to kill encryption, putting us all at risk of malicious hackers, government spying, and worse. We are always facing new threats from people who want access to everything we do.

EnemiesAllAround12 karma

They can't "kill encryption" though. Surely open source software developed in other countries is going to still be developed?

fightforthefuture45 karma

By "kill encryption," I mean that these laws would kill commercially-available encryption products by creating vulnerabilities that many different people could exploit for many different reasons (law enforcement, malicious hackers, state-sponsored attackers, scammers, etc.). It's happened before, and it's certainly going to happen again.

Encryption programs are not entirely difficult to create, so anyone could theoretically create their own encryption program. Any moderately sophisticated criminals using services like WhatsApp and Signal would simply create their own services to avoid government scrutiny. So "killing encryption" wouldn't actually kill encryption ... it would just kill encryption for law-abiding members of the public without actually helping law enforcement officials and intelligence agents protect us from serious threats.

Anyone who wants to put digital backdoors into encrypted services to help catch "bad guys" is either dangerously ignorant or lying to you about their intentions.

Gen_Jack_Ripper20 karma

Wouldn't another option be not voting in Democrats and Republicans that continue to erode basic liberties?

As much as Reddit doesn't want to admit it: their team is just as guilty threatening freedom as the other team. (I'll welcome the downvotes with the knowledge that Bernie could have stopped this, but didn't even bother to show up.)

fightforthefuture17 karma

Personally, I agree that change doesn't happen when people play teams with political parties. However, I also think it's important to note that political parties are really just loose coalitions of people with *some* overlapping interests.

I also think it's stupid to say that "Bernie could have stopped this." Bernie and three other Senators did not show up to vote for the Wyden-Daines amendment in the Senate. But Mitch McConnell set the bar for passing the Wyden-Daines amendment at 60 instead of the usual 51. And 37 Senators voted against the Wyden-Daines amendment.

So I'm looking at the situation and seeing that a majority of lawmakers in the Senate actually want to reform surveillance law. There are specific, powerful people who are opposed to reform, and those are the people we should be targeting with our political action.

Kyrzon1 karma

How did McConnell change the goalposts (so to speak) on this vote? What gives him the power to do that freely?

fightforthefuture3 karma

There's a procedure called "cloture" which allows the Senate to place a time limit on consideration for a bill. My understanding is that Mitch McConnell essentially said, "I'll allow the Senate to vote on this amendment, but only if we tie the vote for the amendment to the vote for cloture on the amendment so that democratic debate over whether or not we rein in the American surveillance state doesn't go on and on forever."

As the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has a lot of power to decide what gets voted on and how the votes take place.

santajawn32214 karma

I'm not trying to be a crazy conspiracy theorist. And, I've probably watched too much Homeland and other spy movies. But, do you ever fear for your safety?

Thanks for the work you do!

fightforthefuture10 karma

No, I don't personally fear for my safety because of the work that I do.

From what I understand of America's mass surveillance program, I think that the government's bulk data collection programs result in all of my phone and Internet activities being collected. I'm probably more likely than many others to be flagged for further investigation because of the work I do and the things I say publicly about the government.

Unfortunately, it's hard to know exactly how concerned we should all be. People in our government work very hard to obscure their activities from public oversight.

plant-aunt7 karma

Are your efforts limited to the US or are they worldwide?

What do you do that led you to be fighting for this cause?

fightforthefuture10 karma

Typically, Fight for the Future is focused on promoting or opposing US legislation. Most of our tools are built to help people connect with their state-level lawmakers, their congressional lawmakers, or federal offices like the FCC.

There are many things that led me to fight for digital rights. Most importantly, I grew up on the Internet. Connecting to Prodigy chat rooms, talking with friends on AIM, upvoting articles on Digg ... I've lived quite a bit of my life online. Throughout my online life, I was exposed to new information that changed my worldview. Collateral Murder -- the video of US soldiers laughing at an airstrike that killed civilians -- horrified me. I was living in NYC on September 11th, 2001, but Edward Snowden's revelations about PRISM were more frightening to me than the threat of any terrorist attack.

Despite my strong political views and my interest in world affairs, I never really considered a career in politics. Instead, I worked as a product manager, building tech products for entertainment companies. But when I saw the opportunity to work with an organization that was fighting to make the world a better place, I jumped at the chance.

Bash41957 karma

What do you think is the main reason for governments constantly wanting to invade our privacy? Don't they care about if affecting themselves, their kids or grandkids?

fightforthefuture16 karma

There's literally no good reason. Literally.

The government's own internal review board found that decades of data collection resulted in two unique leads, one significant investigation, and stopped no terrorist attacks from occurring. Seriously. Not one life saved. But laws were broken by the PATRIOT Act's invasive bulk data collection programs. The Constitution was violated in service of the PATRIOT Act. High-ranking government officials lied to Congress to cover up their illegal spying activities. And now the Senate Intelligence Committee is lying about terrorist threats to justify more spying.

Why do they want to invade *your* privacy? Why do they lie to the public and the lawmakers charged with providing oversight? I'll defer to Lester Freamon on that.

imariaprime6 karma

How is this not a hopeless cause?

This isn't me trying to bring you down; this is an honest question hoping you can bring me up regarding this.

It seems that for every law and policy regarding the internet, democracy has no real hold. These laws are put forth over and over, where defeat seems to hold no real lasting effect, until one finally passes and then we're stuck with the consequences. Net Neutrality comes to mind, for example.

What's the point if we can't actually win? If it only takes one sneaky back room deal to undo all our effort, how do we win and make it stick for any meaningful amount of time?

I apologize for the relentless pessimism in this question; I'm not normally like this. But it seems like we just keep losing these battles over and over.

fightforthefuture7 karma

It's easy to get discouraged. And believe me ... that's exactly what our political opponents want. They want you to get discouraged. They want you to give up. But don't give up. We're always very close to victory.

Let's look at your own example: net neutrality. After years of hard work, the public won net neutrality under the 2015 Open Internet Order. Unfortunately, Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai to head the FCC. Yes, Pai overturned the 2015 Open Internet Order. But to do it, he had to hold a rigged comments period which saw millions offake comments. Now there's a criminal investigation into the fake comments, and Ajit Pai was forced to admit that he lied to Congress about a fake DDOS attack.

Seriously. Ajit Pai is a politically-appointed public servant with no accountability to voters. He has cable lobbyists spending tens of millions of dollars each year to spread propaganda to lawmakers and people like you and me to kill net neutrality and put more control in the hands of cable companies. And he still had to lie, cheat, and steal just to repeal net neutrality. Because more than 80% of Americans support net neutrality.

Do you really think that this administration is going to stay in office forever? Do you really think that Ajit Pai wil be the FCC Commissioner forever? A new presidential administration would likely result in Title II protections for net neutrality very quickly. And even the cable companies don't want to go back-and-forth in an endless battle over Title II classification. We'll get net neutrality legislation eventually. We just have to keep fighting to make sure we get good net neutrality legislation!

It's okay if you're tired of fighting. Take a break. Sit out a round and relax. When you're ready to come back into the fight, come back swinging!

jaybeco5 karma

Which party statistically pushes for more big brother type of laws?

fightforthefuture16 karma

That's an important question, but also an impossible question to answer because there are many different big brother type of laws supported by Democrats and Republicans.

Let's take a look at one specific example, though. Recently, the Wyden-Daines privacy amendment to the PATRIOT Act was up for a vote in the Senate. This important amendment was co-authored by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) to prevent the government from spying on your Internet activity without a warrant. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) forced the amendment to reach a 60 vote threshold in order to pass, rather than the usual 51 vote threshold ... probably just to make it harder to pass. McConnell also authored his own amendment to explicitly allow the government to to spy on your Internet activity without a warrant, even though that's pretty much what the government is already doing.

59 Senators voted for the amendment. 37 Senators voted against it. 4 Senators were unable to cast a vote. Of those 37 Senators, 27 were Republicans and 10 were Democrats.

If you care about an issue like Internet surveillance -- and you really, really should -- you will find that it is necessary to cross party lines and find supporters everywhere you can. I genuinely believe most Congressional lawmakers want to support surveillance reform. Some of them are ignorant about technology and easily convinced by ridiculous lies. Some of them don't feel powerful enough to oppose party leadership. Some of them just don't hear from their voters that this issue is important to them.

If you want to call your lawmakers, we've made it easy. Just dial 1 (202) 930-8115 and tell them:

I urge you to support the Lofgren-Davidson privacy amendment to the PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill. Do not kill it. Do not weaken it. The government should never spy on my Internet activity without a warrant.

We'll connect you to Nancy Pelosi's office first. Hit # when you're done and we'll connect you to Adam Schiff's office. Hit # when you're done and we'll connect you to your lawmakers' offices after that.

zugi4 karma

By supporting this Wyden-Daines amendment, you appear to be endorsing reauthorization of the terrible, awful USA FREEDOM Act, which is the 2015 changed name for the freedom-limiting Patriot Act. The USA FREEDOM Act will expire if Congress does nothing, which Congress is typically very good at. Why not come out strongly against reauthorization, instead of supporting reauthorization with amendments?

fightforthefuture8 karma

As an organization, Fight for the Future does not support the USA FREEDOM Act. We have publicly opposed reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act, the USA FREEDOM Act, and any government program designed to spy on the public.

We encourage Congress to burn this invasive, ineffective legislation until it is nothing but ashes blowing in the winds of time long lost. Or they can let it expire. Either is cool with us. We don't want it renewed, and we've made that point clear in tweets, emails, websites, and press releases.

But if Congress is going to reauthorize it, then it's essential that important privacy protections are included in that reauthorization.

Doomblade104 karma

I’m not good at statistics, so pardon the possible butchery in the way I phrase this, but

Is there significant evidence or data that supports whether the governments access to internet search history prevents crime? (Or that it does not?)

If you feel this way about the government being able to see all of this data, do you also have a platform against companies that essentially are the ones that own all of the browsing history data?

fightforthefuture5 karma

This New York Times article does a detailed dive into how the government's program to spy on our phone calls prevented absolutely no terrorism attacks and saved absolutely no lives. The government's own internal review board found similar results back in 2014.

The government wants us to believe that monitoring our Internet activity will prevent crime. But intelligence agencies won't even tell Congress about what they're currently doing to spy on us and whether or not their current spying activities are actually preventing crime. And they routinely lie about the actual threats we face if we outlaw their spying activities.

So no. We do not have significant evidence to support the idea that the government's spying on our daily lives prevents crime. We do, however, have significant evidence that it is used to hunt whistleblowers and suppress perfectly legal, non-violent political protests.

Also, as a note, you phrased your question perfectly! I was never good at math growing up, but I've learned that statistics are a very important way for us to talk about the world ... and knowing more about statistics can also help you tell when people are lying. I encourage you to take a class on statistics at your local community college, or perhaps you can find a free online course.

SEND-POLITICAL-NUDES3 karma

What can we do as individuals beyond the bare minimum of call elected reps to help you?

fightforthefuture7 karma

Great question, and the bare minimum is actually a BIG DEAL. Calling your elected reps once is great. Calling them often to voice your opinion is even better. Sharing on social media about what issues are important to you, why they are important to you, and what your friends and family can do to support these issues, is HUGE. Because once you start doing that, you're an organizer, too.

The most important thing is to just keep fighting. When I began working in political activism, it was frustrating to work on campaigns that failed or, even worse, were ignored. But when you keep fighting, you see that sometimes campaigns succeed. Sometimes (like right now), thousands of people across the nation are paying attention to something very important that's happening RIGHT NOW.

Stay informed. Sign petitions. Make calls. Volunteer for political candidates who share your values. Run for office yourself. Do what you can, whenever you can. Make activism a part of your life, and you will find many new opportunities to pitch in.

flamingolion3 karma

What is your donation link?

fightforthefuture3 karma

You can make a donation at https://www.fightforthefuture.org/donate/. Every bit helps. Thanks so much!

DaBlueCaboose2 karma

Do y'all have a stance on the availability of 3D printing files for firearms? Interested to see what your thoughts are on code being speech.

fightforthefuture2 karma

This is a fascinating question that challenges a lot of my personal values as I think through the implications of different policies and different scenarios. I have a lot of thoughts on the matter, but I don't think I have a personal stance on it.

To the best of my knowledge, my org does not have a stance on the issue, either.

RogueGecko1012 karma

Is the war on privacy lost in the US?

fightforthefuture1 karma

Nah

YoungCubSaysWoof2 karma

Made the calls earlier on, thanks for your work!

My main concern is that during my political activism, I have protested powerful people. I think that without this amendment, those in power will abuse their authority and try to dig up dirt on activists’ web browsing (probably focused on their porn site visits) and use that to embarrass and shame them. After a few people are made examples of, fewer people will speak up and challenge power.

Am i in the ball park for one of the possible dystopian possibilities if this bill passes without this amendment?

fightforthefuture2 karma

It isn't a possible dystopian future ... it's happening right now, and it's been happening for years. The FBI has been spying on black activists, spreading lies about their ties to ISIS terrorists to justify more spying. They've been spying on journalists in an effort to hunt down and punish confidential sources for blowing the whistle on illegal activities.

Keep protesting powerful people. Keep holding people in power accountable for their actions. Be smart. Stay safe.

mhunt11 karma

Why would the government care about what porn I watch?

fightforthefuture3 karma

I see you're being downvoted, but I think this is an essential question. Why would the government care about what porn you watch? Why would the government care about what websites you visit? Why would the government care who you talk to online?

They care. They want this information. On you and me and everyone else. They don't need it for any legitimate purpose. If they did, they would go to a judge and get a warrant because they have probable cause that you might commit a crime. So why do they want to collect all this information without having to go to a judge and get a warrant?

The only reasonable answer I can come up with is "control."

BigTBuckHunter1 karma

What kind of things are currently being spied on in our everyday lives?

Tobacconist1 karma

Hey folks. I really appreciate your stance and hope you succeed. So I'm not being a dick here:

Why is this ever gonna succeed? We've had 20 years of America post 9/11 and the Patriot Act-style bullshit is still largely supported by both major parties. I just don't have any hope for this changing.

fightforthefuture1 karma

I think it's totally reasonable to feel exhausted from fighting for rights that are, in theory, enshrined into the Constitution. And make no mistake, your political opponents work hard to disenfranchise you and convince you that their power is supreme and that their advantage is insurmountable.

But I think they are more vulnerable than ever. And I think they know that.

They are vulnerable because people like Mark Stanley, Sandy Fulton, Neema Singh Guliani, and everyone at our organizations spend our lives chipping away at their power structures, asking questions, and shining lights on the dark corners of the legislative process. They are vulnerable because people like Dell Cameron and Janus Rose work tirelessly to keep the public informed about important votes. They are vulnerable because we can come on a site like Reddit and talk to people like you, freely sharing information about all the awful things these people are doing in an attempt to control us.

Even though the Wyden-Daines amendment failed in the Senate, coverage of that failure sparked enough grassroots outrage to convince the House to vote on a (hopefully) similar amendment in Lofgren-Davidson. I'm not sure that any DC insider thought PATRIOT Act reform was anything more than a punchline a few weeks ago, but we're getting a House vote on important privacy protections tomorrow.

Keep throwing punches. Some of them will land.

Unjust_Filter1 karma

Who would benefit from shutting down this act apart from radical revolutionaries planning attacks against the state and those engaging in real questionable conduct online/via digital means?

fightforthefuture1 karma

Journalists & whistleblowers. Civil rights protesters. Literally everyone.

But even though I can easily justify my right to privacy, I don't need to. The founding fathers already did that for me. If people are engaging in potentially illegal activities, law enforcement and intelligence agents can go to a judge and make the case for a warrant.

burrito3ater0 karma

Have you all been under government surveillance ever since taking up the fight?

fightforthefuture1 karma

There's no way to to know, since many warrants are issued in secret courts, and a great deal of surveillance is conducted without any warrant whatsoever. And that's one of the reasons that drives us to fight for greater privacy protections.

OozyOrphan-2 karma

Why are you bald?

fightforthefuture10 karma

I cosplay as Aang in my free time.

(Just kidding. But maybe I should start ...)