Fight for the Future


September 10th is the Internet Slowdown. Let’s show the world what’s at stake if we lose net neutrality.

Posted 14:44 EDT on August 29, 2014

Urgent action alert: September 10th is the Internet Slowdown, a creative online action to defend net neutrality. This is our moment to get everyone to understand what’s at stake.

Got a website, blog, app, or Tumblr? Click here to get the code to participate.

Everyone else, we need you to help make this huge! Click here and share this image on social media. Then forward this to everyone you can think of.

No, we’re not *really* slowing down the Internet. Now read on – this email is important. <3

-Evan at FFTF

Dear Fight for the Future member,

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do?

Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.

Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?

How would your worldview be different? Do you think you’d have found Fight for the Future or other causes you care about? Would you be getting this email?

On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality.

We need everyone on board for this. Got a website or blog? Find out how the slowdown works and how you can join here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th

If you don’t have a website, you are still part of this! Here’s a quick list of things you can do to help in the Battle for the Net.

This isn’t about how quickly our cat videos load, it’s about the future of our ability to communicate, to learn, to create, and to rebel. It’s about the future of humanity.

The SOPA blackout proved that even concentrated monopoly and government power is no match for the power of people’s voices connected and amplified by the free and open web.

That power is one of the few things we have in this fight for the future. This could be one of our last chances to defend it. If we lose it, we lose a lot more than just the Internet. If we win, we win a lot more than just streaming video. The stakes are high and we should be acting like it.

The Internet is counting on each and every one of us to act. Let’s not let ourselves down. See you on the net September 10th!

For the future,

-Evan, Tiffiniy, Holmes, and the FFTF team

P.S. We need to make the movement for net neutrality feel like it’s EVERYWHERE. Want to proudly display your love for the free and open web at all times? Get your very own Team Internet t-shirt: http://teespring.com/stores/team-internet and tweet a photo of yourself wearing it to #TeamInternet!

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Be a part of the great Internet Slowdown

Posted 15:48 EDT on August 28, 2014

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On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s net neutrality comment deadline, internet users and tech companies will unite for the “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what’s at stake if we lose net neutrality, the “First Amendment of the Internet.”

We need everyone’s help right now to make this huge. Here’s what you can do right now to help make the Internet Slowdown go viral:

1. Forward this post to your friends and share the image with your social networks using the buttons above. We need people across the web to know about the slowdown so they can join on September 10th.

2. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook so we can reach you with urgent updates and action items as the big day approaches.

3. If you can, please chip in $10 (or more!) to help make the Internet Slowdown possible. We’re building tools that any website or organization can use to promote their own net neutrality action, because we care about the movement. But it’s not cheap! Help us sustain this critical work.

4. Contact your favorite websites, apps, and online services and ask them to join the Slowdown! Send them to this page: https://BattleForTheNet.com/sept10th

5. If you have your own website or app, put the Internet Slowdown widget on it. If you really want to be an Internet Defender, help out by using your own website to spread the word. It’s as easy as adding the widget/modal code found here:

https://BattleForTheNet.com/sept10th#modal

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Here’s how we get our democracy back after #Ferguson

Posted 16:39 EDT on August 20, 2014

Urgent: Cops in Ferguson are strangling free speech. Take action now!
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Dear Fight for the Future member,

For the past several nights I’ve been glued to the Internet watching livestreams and social media coming out of Ferguson, MO. It’s been heartwrenching, but has also reminded me why I care so much about Internet freedom: it allows for free speech and discussion like never before.

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos and photos: cops firing tear gas and concussion grenades into residential neighborhoods, threatening and arresting journalists at gunpoint, and brutally suppressing protesters standing with their hands in the air chanting, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”[1][2]

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The images are frightening. But even more frightening is the reality that this type of crackdown could become commonplace, thanks to millions of dollars of Federal funding that incentivize police forces to resemble an invading army. It has to stop.

Technology should be used to amplify people’s voices, not silence them. As an organization that advocates for tech in the public interest, we felt we have a real role to play to make this stop.

Right now Congress is considering legislation that would demilitarize local police forces. Click here to tell your lawmakers to cut funding for the weapons of war used to suppress free speech.

I’ve seen this type of behavior from police before – after a quick poll we discovered 50% of the Fight for the Future team has been teargassed at demonstrations at one time or another. But this time the abuse has been so egregious that there have been calls from both left and right demanding to know: just how did it get this way?

The story goes a lot like the story of how we got into this mess with NSA surveillance. Defense contractors working their magic in Washington, DC got the Department of Homeland Security to start offering more than $30 billion in grants to local police departments for all kinds of crowd control “toys.”[3] They received even more weaponry through the 1033 transfer program that put military-grade weapons directly in the hands of local cops. [4] Defense contractors profit greatly off of this program, which has created a dangerous situation where local police are compelled to use what weapons they have on crowds of people expressing themselves.

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The police violence in Ferguson brought this secretive history hurtling into view. Barack Obama and Rand Paul (neither of whom I’m a big fan of) have both made statements suggesting that police should not be silencing voices of dissent and brutalizing journalists with weapons of military occupation. [5][6] But talk is cheap. We need action right now.

Will you sign the petition? We have a path forward to end this tyranny. Here’s something concrete and meaningful that we can do right now to protect our right to dissent.

Despite the enforced media blackout, it’s been relatively easy to get breaking news out of Ferguson thanks to free and uncensored Internet. (Oh, except on Facebook, but that’s another story. [7]) Through livestreams, twitter, and various blogs, I’ve watched with my own eyes and saw a SWAT officer rip a press badge off of VICE News reporter Tim Pool, saying “this doesn’t mean shit” while separating “credentialed” reporters from citizen journalists. [8] I watched cops with submachine guns telling journalists to “separate themselves” from protesters and get in their “designated area.” [9][10]

Everybody wants to live in safe cities. Nobody likes getting mugged. But if we give our police free reign to buy the latest sub-lethal grenades, chemical weapons or surveillance gadgets the military industrial complex cooks up, it’s only a matter of time before they use them in terrible ways against people like us. If this goes unchecked, the next Ferguson will be a lot worse.

Tell your representatives to protect the 1st amendment and cut funding for police brutality.

We’ve learned all too well in the last year how dangerous technology can be when it’s used against us rather than for us. Now is our chance to make it clear that no government or corporation should be able to accumulate weapons and technology for the purpose of suppressing free speech and a free press.

It’s going to take a lot more than contacting Congress to dismantle the underlying injustices that have lead to the uprising and repression in Ferguson, but for the first time in a long time, we have a real chance to turn the tide on this issue, and make the world a safer place for when our children stand up to protest the things that they see wrong in the world.

For freedom online and off,
-Evan at Fight for the Future, with love from the whole team

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P.S. While #Ferguson has definitely occupied some of my mind lately, it’s mostly just strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for the free and open Internet. It’s going to be a long road to justice, but the Internet gives us a chance. This article says a lot of things about Ferguson and the open Internet that I have been thinking but couldn’t have articulated so well. Very worth a read and a share.

If you’re feeling like you want to do more to support people on the ground in Ferguson speaking out in the face of overwhelming police violence, please donate to the bail fund that’s been set up for protesters there.


SOURCES (there’s a lot this time!)

[1] Bindrim, Kira. “Tear Gas Used as Protests Erupt in Ferguson, Missouri”. Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/another-night-curfew-ferguson-265154

[2] Crilly, Rob. ”Supporters rally for police officer who shot dead Michael Brown“. Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11040486/Supporters-rally-for-police-officer-who-shot-dead-Michael-Brown.html

[3] Priest, Dana and William Arkin. “Monitoring America”. Washington Post. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/monitoring-america/?hpid=topnews

[4] Mastio, David and Kelsey Rupp. “Pentagon weaponry in St. Louis County: Updated Column”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/08/13/ferguson-police-michael-brown-militarization-column/14006383/

[5] Paul, Rand. “Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police”. TIME. http://time.com/3111474/rand-paul-ferguson-police/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

[6] Obama, Barack. “Full Transcript: Obama’s remarks on Ferguson, Mo. and Iraq”. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/running-transcript-obamas-remarks-on-ferguson-mo-and-iraq/2014/08/18/ed29d07a-2713-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

[7] Tufekci, Zeynep. “What happens to #Ferguson affects Ferguson” https://medium.com/message/ferguson-is-also-a-net-neutrality-issue-6d2f3db51eb0

[8] Pool, Tim (Timcast). “Earlier tonight an officer ripped my Press patch from my vest in #Ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/501613406248771584

[9] Harris, Joe ‏(joeharris_stl). “Media being told to stay within designated area. #ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/joeharris_stl/status/501591311372541952

[10] Harris, Joe ‏(joeharris_stl). “Police asking all members of the media to please separate themselves. #Ferguson”. Tweet. https://twitter.com/joeharris_stl/status/501575223586852864

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Giveaway! Win a free Blackphone and protect yourself from dragnet surveillance.

Posted 12:24 EDT on August 18, 2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hey Fight for the Future friends and fans,

Here’s a little something new we’ve never tried before: a contest!

Our friends over at GSM Nation have been big supporters of our work for net neutrality, online privacy, and against Internet censorship, so we were stoked when they told us they were going to start carrying the Blackphone, a new android phone that was built with privacy in mind and comes bundled with trusted, easy to use encryption tools.

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To help kick things off, we’re partnering with GSM Nation and mobile tech gurus Pocketnow to give away a brand new Blackphone as part of a free contest for our supporters!

All you have to do to enter is follow the three organizations on social media (you could always unfollow us after if you want, we won’t be offended! But then you’d miss out crucial info about keeping the Internet free and tips & tricks for guarding your privacy.) Also if you win, don’t worry, we’ll protect your privacy and only announce your name if you want us to.

So what’s the deal with the Blackphone? Well, here’s a few links to get you started:

Here at Fight for the Future we encourage everyone to take as many steps as possible to protect themselves from dragnet surveillance. We think everyone should be able to access the Internet, communicate, and express themselves without fear of government snooping or repression. We don’t often recommend specific products that people should or shouldn’t use – we think everyone should do their research, be skeptical, and be informed about their various options.

The Blackphone is not a perfect solution for 100% privacy (there may be no such thing for the vast majority of people) but it’s a huge leap forward for most of us, and provides meaningful protection from many types of mass government and corporate surveillance. So is this phone NSA-proof? Nah probably not. But if someone wants your data, this phone will make them work for it.

Here’s what I like about the Blackphone: it basically forces you to take steps to protect yourself, which is more important than you might think. I am probably the least technical member of the Fight for the Future team. When I joined the organization i could barely write a line of HTML, my role is as an activist. For me, anything that makes it easy and quick for me to protect my online privacy is huge.

GSM Nation sent me a Blackphone to try out, and the first thing it does when you turn it on is require you to set a PIN. I noted that it requires that pin to be at least 5 digits, i think all of my previous phones only allowed 4.

Then the phone prompts you to enable whole phone encryption. You can do this on other Android phones, but so many people like me would never think of it or get around to it or figure out how to do it. On the Blackphone, you press a button, plug in your phone and there you go. For someone like me, that’s critical. I would probably never encrypt my phone otherwise.

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The Blackphone comes with apps that I was happy to see like SpiderOak (an alternative to Dropbox that uses zero-knowledge privacy, meaning the company doesn’t know what you’re storing so they can’t turn anything over to anyone) and the text and phone apps from Silent Circle. The phone also comes with Disconnect.me built in to allow for private browsing and blocking various trackers.

Again, like any privacy tool, the Blackphone has its limitations. If the NSA is looking directly at you they are probably going to be able to hack your phone. But they can’t hack everyone. Mass surveillance on the scale they’re conducting now is only possible because we leave ourselves so open to spying. There is safety in numbers. The more of us that use basic encryption tools like the ones Blackphone comes with, the safer we all are and the harder it is for governments to track, profile, and monitor innocent people, activists, and journalists. Don’t leave your personal life wide open, #GetSecure now.

Click here to go back to the top of this post and enter the contest to win a Blackphone!

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Contest Legal details

  • Contest begins Monday, August 18, 2014 and runs through 12am EDT (4am GMT) Thursday, August 28, 2014. That’s midnight between Wednesday and Thursday, not Thursday and Friday, so don’t come complaining if you missed your chance to enter.

  • This is a global giveaway, open to anyone, anywhere.

  • Prize is one (1) Blackphone, SRP $629.

  • In order to be considered for entry, you’re going to need to follow Pocketnow, GSM Nation, and Fight for the Future on Twitter. You must abide by the rules spelled-out in the Rafflecopter widget to be eligible.

  • One (1) grand-prize winner will be selected from Rafflecopter’s randomized pool of entrants.

  • The winner will be announced next week, shortly after entries close. This post will be updated at that time to identify the winning entry.

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Press Release: Fight for the Future delivers 135,000 signatures to Facebook demanding an end to abusive privacy practices

Posted 10:18 EDT on August 15, 2014

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Fight for the Future Director of Code Activism Jeff Lyon hand delivering the signatures to Facebook. More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook opt them out of their new tracking system.  (This photo is available for use by press.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org
Evan Greer: 978-852-6457
Kevin Huang: 510-648-5048

More than 135,000 Internet users call on Facebook to end intrusive tracking, data collection, and psychological experiments that violate users’ basic rights

MENLO PARK, CA – Just one week after media reports that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit that has already attracted more than 25,000 plaintiffs, activists from the digital rights group Fight for the Future showed up at Facebook’s corporate offices in California yesterday to hand deliver a box containing tens of thousands of petition signatures protesting the company’s abusive practices of tracking Internet users even when they are not on Facebook and conducting psychological experiments without consent.

More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook remove them from the new tracking system, which was revealed in June. Fight for the Future called upon the company to heed their customer’s wishes and remove the signatories from the tracking system in question. The group also issued the following demands to Facebook in a cover letter included with the signatures:

We demand that Facebook:

  • End its intrusive tracking system that taps into the web activity of Internet users worldwide.

  • Inform the people affected by the psychological experiment that they were participants.

  • Refrain from conducting any similar studies and make it clear in the terms of service, data use policy, and privacy policy that these types of experiments are prohibited without informed consent.

  • Disclose if any other similar experiments have been or are being conducted.

“With everything we’ve learned in the past year about the ways those in power have been abusing the Internet to invade our privacy, it’s no wonder that Facebook users are speaking out in droves demanding more transparency and accountability from a company that holds such a massive amount of personal information,” said Evan Greer, of Fight for the Future. “The public has spoken, companies that ignore the growing cry for privacy should only expect user protests to intensify. We are heartened to hear that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit for their practices – the signatures that we are delivering today should be seen as further evidence of this company’s lack of concern for its users basic rights.”

The petitions that Fight for the Future delivered were launched in June in response to news reports exposing the extent of Facebook’s abusive practices. The signatures are a rejection of Facebook’s ad network expansion of their tracking system to collect web history and app data from all Internet users inside and outside Facebook. In addition, the privacy advocates also point to the June public announcement of psychological experiments conducted on 700,000 Facebook users without their informed consent. Facebook’s experiments were also revealed by Forbes to have breached its own user agreement, which was only changed to include the right to conduct research experiments four months after they were completed.

This is not the first time Facebook has run into trouble for its expansive corporate surveillance.  In 2011, the FTC ruled against the company for deceiving its users about what data it was sharing with the public, third party applications, and advertisers.

“Everyone should have the ability to use the Internet to express themselves freely. It’s not only a human rights issue but it’s fundamental for democracy and freedom of press,” added Greer, “overly invasive corporate practices like Facebook’s tracking system undermine the privacy of the web, and have a chilling effect on free speech. Facebook needs to do the right thing and start listening to their users – and in the meantime anyone concerned with privacy should move away from centralized services and toward services that are built to respect users’ human rights”

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Campaign Manager Kevin Huang with Jeff Lyon outside Facebook’s corporate headquarters with 135,000 petition signatures. (This photo is available for use by press.)

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