Big-name opponents of the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance techniques are joining forces for "Reset the Net," an Internet-wide protest against the U.S. spy agency to be held on June 5. The protest will include a large Thunderclap on Thursday, blanketing social media with an anti-surveillance message.
Among those supporting Reset the Net are Reddit, Greenpeace, ACLU, DuckDuckGo, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Together they will promote encryption tools, implement additional anti-NSA security options on Web sites and services, or simply spread the message. A similar campaign was used to successfully fight SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), an anti-piracy bill that could have damaged the Internet.
Hurting The Internet
The basis for the Reset the Net campaign is that mass surveillance ultimately hurts the Internet, and therefore, it needs to be stopped or at least reformed. Many of the companies supporting the campaign have major stakes in the Internet's future, as Web sites like Reddit simply would not exist as they currently do with a more restricted Internet.
Thunderclap, a "crowdspeaking" platform, will be used by those involved with the campaign to increase the effect of their social media posts. Although individuals posting about the NSA won't have much of an effect but when millions of people post about the NSA, it is hard for their message to not be heard.
"Mass surveillance is toxic for the Internet," according to the EFF's blog post about Reset the Net. "The Internet is a powerful force that can promote democracy, innovation, and creativity, but it’s being subverted as a tool for government spying. That’s why EFF has joined with dozens of other organizations in calling for a day of action to Reset the Net."
Part of Reset the Net may be spreading the message about the NSA and its surveillance but that is not the only goal of the campaign. Those involved with Reset the Net are also trying to promote the use of more advanced encryption and security tools by informing people about them and getting "hundreds of sites & apps" to take advantage of the tools that are available.
On its Tumblr page, the campaign's organizers laid out a basic framework so that Web sites understand which security features they need to implement. "HTTPS, HSTS, and PFS (perfect forward secrecy) are powerful tools that make mass spying much more difficult," according to Reset the Net leaders. "Until Web sites use them, we’re sunk: agencies like the NSA can spy on everything. Once they’re ubiquitous, mass surveillance is much harder and more precarious -- even if you’re the NSA."
Reset the Net admitted that it is difficult to tell how beneficial the security technologies are because the NSA's capabilities are not fully known, but there are some noticeable benefits. With simple security features like HTTPS, Reset the Net said that Web sites can be protected from the vast majority of prying eyes.