Restore the Fourth: Grassroots civil liberties activism is back and better than ever!

Restore the Fourth rally on the Federal Building, NY


It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties.

me, in 2008, to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list

Five years later, grassroots civil liberties activism on social networks is back and better then ever.  Back in 2008, we were organizing online, trying to stop the disastrous FISA Amendment Act, and Barack Obama had just responded to our open letter.  We lost that battle, but the fight goes on … and today it went to the next level at Restore the Fourth‘s rallies across the country:

New York

How cool is that?

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Happy Birthday Get FISA Right: Looking forward to what comes next!

Cross-posted on Get FISA Right

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26, 2008, with posts by Mardi S on my.barackobama.com and Mike Stark on Open Left. We were the first high-profile grassroots social network activism campaign in the US and got enough attention that Obama responded to our open letter. Still, we and our allies lost that battle over the disastrous FISA Amendments Act. And since then, it’s been more of the same.

Five more years of the NSA vacuuming up our phone and internet information.

Five more years without meaningful oversight.

Five more years of evasion and outright lies in Congressional testimony.

Five more years of secret court rulings.

Five more years of legal maneuvering to try to prevent EFF, ACLU, or anybody else from challenging the laws’ constitutionality.

Five more years of Patriot Act and FISA reauthorization.

Happy f—ing birthday.

But after the firestorm of publicity in response to the recent leaks, I’m increasingly optimistic that momentum is building for a change.

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ACTION ALERT: House PATRIOT Act vote on Monday!

Monday at 6:30 Eastern, the House is once again voting on HR514, which extends the PATRIOT Act until December of this year without introducing any new safeguards.   So please try to find time this weekend to get involved and get the word out!

To start with:

Then help get the word out!

  • email this info to people
  • share it on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter
  • leave a comment on any blog posts, articles, Facebook groups, and message board threads discussing the PATRIOT Act and make sure to include the link to the POPVOX page: http://bit.ly/oppose514
  • and if you’re on Twitter, tweet early and often using #patriotact hashtag — some suggested tweets in the first comment

Get FISA Right will be having a chat during the vote on Monday — watch our blog at http://getfisaright.wordpress.com/ for updates.

Have a great weekend … and make some noise!

jon

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Demand JUSTICE, not the PATRIOT Act!

It’s time to go on the offensive! Here’s the action alert Bill of Rights Defense Committee just sent out. Please help by using POPVOX to support the reintroduction of the JUSTICE Act, and getting the word out widely in email, via Facebook, and on Twitter. The House is expected to vote again early next week so now is a critical time to make some noise!

– jon


Ten years after passing the USA PATRIOT Act, Congress is again debating this enormous expansion of government power. With three provisions set to expire at the end of this month, and Tuesday’s revolt in the House against fast-track reauthorization, there has never been a better time to insist that Congress restore constitutional rights.

Take action now. Demand that your congressional representatives support meaningful reforms through the JUSTICE Act.

A law so extensive that many members of Congress admitted to having never read it, the USA PATRIOT Act has been in place for too long—and there has been too little debate on its dramatic expansion of executive power—to allow a reauthorization without debate.
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Patriot Act renewal: building on an unexpected victory (DRAFT!)

Draft! Work in progress! Feedback welcome!

Talk about a shocker!  24 Republicans (including 8 new members) joined with 124 Democrats to stand up for civil liberties and defeat an attempt to sneak Patriot Act Reauthorization through the House.  Here’s what EFF, Wired, and the Washington Post have to say about this unexpected victory.

Thanks to everybody who joined in the flash activism campaign and made some noise!  It was a great multi-partisan campaign that broke through the media blackout and got some attention.  So let’s take a moment to celebrate!

Okay, now back to work.
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An open letter to President Obama on the Patriot Act (DRAFT)

Draft! Work in progress!  Feedback welcome!

The open letter will be published Monday evening, and this will be one of many posts announcing it.

Final version intended for Pam’s House Blend

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Social network activism and the future of civil liberties

Also posted on The Seminal and Pam’s House Blend

The most recent skirmish on the Patriot Act reauthorization battle ended badly for civil liberties.   Despite passionate speeches all around in the Senate Judiciary Committee public hearings and classified briefings, in the end, only Senators Feingold, Durbin, and Specter stood up for the Constitution. As Marcy Wheeler says, we got rolled.

At the same time, though, the social network activism I discussed in Can Skittles fix the Patriot Act? and on the Get FISA Right blog highlights the opportunity to broaden and recharge the civil liberties community.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Care2, OFA and other social network sites:

  • provide a way to engage with Millennials and other diverse groups of people who care a lot about the Patriot Act — but are not currently involved with civil liberties activism.
  • make it easy for people to let their politicians know their feelings — and recruit their friends in the process.
  • allow civil liberties organizations to get beyond the media blackout and provide accurate information to everybody.
  • complement in-person local campaigns like People’s Campaign for the Constitution’s local ordinances and good ol’ fashioned letters-to-the-editor

It’s a powerful narrative.  Social network sites epitomize the wave of the future, Obama’s strength in 2008, and youth.  They’re overwhelmingly in favor of civil liberties.  And civil liberties supporters are getting organized there.  As we continue to make progress, every political consultant and politician thinking about a primary or general election challenge in 2010 or 2012 will be paying attention.

Social network activism for civil liberties has made great progress so far.  Some simple steps from organizations and bloggers can take things to the next level.  Before getting to the suggestions, though, I’d like to discuss the diversity aspects in a little more detail.
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Social network activism and the Patriot Act (DRAFT)

DRAFT Work in progress! Feedback welcome!

Final version intended for The Seminal and Pam’s House Blend

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New strategies for fighting FISA and the PATRIOT Act

The notes from the “birds-of-a-feather” session I led at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy are written up on the CFP Wiki. Alas, we didn’t get the online aspects to work; still, we had a dozen people there in person, including Get FISA Right members Thomas Nephew and Chip Pitts. It was a great discussion. The opportunities we identified include

  • building a broad, diverse coalition
  • focusing on cost, dignity, and human rights issues as well as privacy and the constitution
  • using anti-corporate activism against the companies supplying equipment and profiting from surveillance
  • involving the technical community and domain experts

and a lot more. We also discussed some of the tactical issues about the upcoming PATRIOT Act vote: the need for an accurate vote count; a pressure campaign on key Congresspeople like Jane Harman, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Harry Reid; and the importance of powerful visual images.

Check it out!

jon

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Feingold preparing to act on FISA (a Get FISA Right scoop)!

In a comment on What does it mean to “get FISA right”?, Ben Masel wrote:

I caught up with Senator Feingold last Sunday, at his Birthday Party/Re-election fundraiser.

He’s going to give the Administration “a few more weeks” to come up with a bill to roll back the FISA amendments, introduce his own bill if they don’t.

One more reason why Get FISA Right ♡ Senator Feingold!

— me, on the Get FISA Right blog

First of all, I haven’t seen this reported elsewhere, so it may well be a scoop for Get FISA Right.  Digg it!Please retweet!**  And please help Get FISA Right get the word out about this news on Facebook!

What do we think should be in the legislation?  Good question!  See Jim Burrows’ What does it mean to “get FISA right”? for some initial opinions — and please share your perspectives!

And from an activism perspective, now’s the time to be thinking about how we can help. There are already some initial ideas on the Get FISA Right blog … feedback and other suggestions welcome!

jon

* if you’re not familiar with digg,  we’ve got a handy intro on the Get FISA Right wiki!

** new to Twitter?  check out Deanna Zandt’s Why Twitter, anyways? and A non-fanatical beginner’s guide to Twitter and the other great resources on the #p2 (“progressives 2.0”) Twitter page.

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Get FISA Right to meet with Sen. Feingold! (maybe) Help wanted.

One of our topics Saturday’s conference call (notes here) was how to make contact with our allies in congress.  Jean from Green Bay mentioned that she and a couple of other people were going to go to one of Senator Russ Feingold’s upcoming Listening Meeting in Wisconsin.

The first opportunity is this Saturday on Valentine’s day (February 14) at a Listening Meeting in Chilton, events in Madison and potentially Milwaukee on March 1, a cable advertising opportunity in Green Bay on March 4, and more.  To keep track of it all, we’re going to use a wiki page as the planning hub for this.

Here’s the current versions of our goals for the project:

  • get a better understanding of the situation in Congress and Senator Feingold’s strategy
  • get Sen Feingold to make a video on “what it means to get FISA right”
  • introduce ourselves to Senator Feingold and get a working relationship in place
  • pilot techniques that we can use as part of a 50-state strategy
  • get blog and media attention, at least at the local and state level, and hopefully nationally as well

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“Dailyish updates” (draft post for The Seminal)

Draft.  Work in progress — feedback welcome!

The revised version will (hopefully) be posted on The Seminal

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