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?

Continue Reading »

political
privacy
Tales from the Net

Comments (6)

Permalink

PATRIOT Act Update: After a successful call-in day, the focus shifts to Congress

Thousands of patriots fought their way through jammed White House phone lines on April 5 to call on President Obama to keep his campaign promises by vetoing any PATRIOT Act extension unless it includes substantial new protections. The timing was perfect, just a day after he launched his re-election campaign. Now, the focus shifts to the House and the Senate.

EFF logo“All day long, we received reports of phone lines being flooded with calls, so that people couldn’t even get through,” says EFF’s activism director Rainey Reitman, “In the coming weeks, we’ll look to harness this energy into future actions in the fight against overbroad government surveillance.”

The two-week Congressional recess from April 18-May 1 is a great opportunity for “in-district” meetings with Representatives. Several clauses of the PATRIOT Act will sunset unless Congress extends them by May 27. Most Democrats support reform, and more and more Republicans are coming out against overbroad legislation, so it’s a great opportunity — but on the other hand, there’s also the risk of a permanent extension. So now’s the time for action.

Executive Director Shahid Buttar of Bill of Rights Defense Committee explains, “With the Obama White House pushing a Bush administration policy, the next step is for Congress to check & balance documented executive abuses under the PATRIOT Act — and for We the People to press our congressional representatives to do their jobs.”

BORDC has some great suggestions about how to set up and prepare for a meeting — including “you don’t have to go it alone”, “outline your interests”, and “follow up”. They’ve also got a couple of optional preparation phone calls scheduled for next week. sign up on their web site if you’d like to be notified. ACLU’s Congressional testimony hearing has some great talking points, and so do Downsize DC, EFF, and BORDC.

Continue Reading »

political
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink

What’s the best technology base for an activism Q&A website?

two question marksAn activism group I know is thinking about setting up a Q&A (question-and-answer) site.  What technology base should they use?

Here’s the functionality wishlist:

  1. users can ask and answer questions, vote on others’ answers, and leave comments
  2. multilingual and accessible
  3. a pleasant and attractive user experience
  4. good moderation tools
  5. easy to attach tags (or categories) to questions and to browse all the questions in a category
  6. people can sign in with their existing Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, etc. IDs
  7. questions, answers, and comments are easy to tweet and look good when posted on Facebook etc.
  8. there’s a way to include Twitter, Facebook, etc. responses as answers or comments
  9. users can have profiles if they want but don’t have to spend any time setting them up
  10. the overall look-and-feel can be customized (to match the activism campaign’s overall branding)
  11. there are a few options for themes for questions, answers, profiles, and categories
  12. it’s possible to integrate discussion forum and chat software [to help people as they’re learning to use the system, and to talk about ‘lessons learned’ as we’re using it]
  13. secure
  14. privacy-friendly (meaning a robust privacy policy if it’s hosted elsewhere)

In general, open-source software with a fairly  unrestrictive license (BSD-style) is preferable; if the GPL’ed or commercial tools for the job are better, that’s fine too.

Continue Reading »

political
social computing

Comments (3)

Permalink

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

political

Comments (1)

Permalink

Following the Patriot Act battle on Twitter with Twazzup

ACTION ALERT: Ask Obama to veto the PATRIOT Act, April 5.

ACTION ALERT: Meet with members of Congress about the PATRIOT Act, April 18-May 1

Most popular linksTwazzup did a custom Twitter backchannel for Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference back in June 2009, and soon after that became the best way to follow the #iranelection protests. Later that year they were kind enough to set up getfisaright.twazzup.com and at least for me it remains the best way to follow the Patriot Act action on Twitter.

patriot congress urgent demand action
#patriotact #tcot #p2 #congress #fbThe buttons aren’t just refrigerator art, they let you see what words and hashtags are the most common … #p2 and #tcot are arch rivals (the biggest progressive and conservative hashtags) and unusually enough they’re in agreement right now: we are sick of Washington trying to sneak the Patriot Act extension past us rather than having a proper debate.

The “Most Popular Links” and “Popular Tweets” sections make it easy to see at a glance what’s going on — and you can click to translate foreign tweets into English. There’s also a useful (and pretty!) “community” section.

I wonder how many tea party freshmen are going to be voting to renew the USA Patriot Act tomorrow.

You don’t have to have a Twitter account to use Twazzup. If you want to join in the conversation, though, our If you’re new to Twitter page has some suggestions.

Please join us!
Continue Reading »

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (4)

Permalink

Patriot Act renewal: Time to make some noise. Fortunately, there’s an app for that!

Update, February 11: The House will be voting on HR 514 again soon.  Keep making noise!  Shahid Buttar’s Demand JUSTICE for the PATRIOT Act has the latest.

Key provisions of the Patriot Act will sunset unless Congress renews them by the end of February. The Obama Administration is working with its allies in Congress to extend Bush Administration policies including National Security Letters , “sneak-and-peak”, and warrantless wiretapping.  On February 8, the House unexpectedly stood up and defeated HR 514, which would reauthorize the odious clauses until December.  It’s back for another vote, though.  With there are three bills in the Senate, and Congress is on recess the last week of the month, it’s not a pretty picture.

Time to make some noise.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that!

Continue Reading »

political
Tales from the Net

Comments (10)

Permalink

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.
Continue Reading »

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (3)

Permalink

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

political
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink

Get FISA Right: should we endorse the special prosecutor idea?

There’s a voting thread up on the Get FISA Right blog.

Current results: 18 yes, 1 no, 1 present (me, since I voted first, to avoid biasing people).

Please weigh in!

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink

Get FISA Right on Ideas for Change: only 72 hours left, five ways to help

Voting in change.org’s Ideas for Change in America competition closes Thursday at 2 p.m. Pacific time. Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties has just fallen to #8, and a couple of the ideas close behind us like Pass the DREAM Act – Support Higher Education for All Students have been climbing rapidly.

Now would be a very good time to start increasing our momentum.

So let’s supplement our email and blogosphere outreach with attention to Facebook.  I’m pretty sure at least half the Get FISA Right members have Facebook accounts, and while there are a lot of challenges to doing Facebook activism, it’s a great platform for person-to-person contact.*

As you get a few moments of time over the next few days, here’s how you can help.

  1. vote for the idea if you haven’t already
  2. double-check that your vote has counted:  the blue “vote” button at the top of the change.org page should turn into a brown “voted” button.
  3. email your friends and family
  4. help with the blogger outreach
  5. get involved on Facebook

Thanks much!

jon

PS: our current endorsement list is here, and later today we’re going to start voting on whether or not to endorse Bob Fertik’s special prosecutor idea.  stay tuned!

* It would be great to do more on MySpace and my.barackobama.com as well; ideas and volunteers welcome!

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink

Vote early, promote often: Ideas for Change and Get FISA Right

The second round of voting in change.org’s Ideas for Change in America competition kicked off today.  Please vote for Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties — and help promote it!

To vote, just click on the Vote here button on the widget on the right.  (If your vote doesn’t register, you may need to log in or sign up first.)

There are a lot of ways you can help promote the idea — see the list on our wiki.  A few ways to get started:

  1. Email the link to your friends and listservs.
  2. Post it to your profile and share it on Facebook or MySpace
  3. If you’re a blogger, write up a post on it and include the code for the widget (available here).  Then sign up as an “endorser” (the link’s on the right-hand side of the change.org page)
  4. As other bloggers to mention our idea and sign up as supporters

We’re having a conference call to discuss promotion on Tuesday, January 6, at 5 PM Pacific/8 PM Eastern.  Please RSVP on Facebook or MyBO if you’re interested!

Stay tuned for more!

jon

PS: and if you’ve got other ideas for promotion, please mention them in the comments

PPS: please also consider voting for Pierre Loiselle’s Repeal the Patriot Act idea.  If we decide to combine the ideas later, you can always change your vote …

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink

On to the second round of “Ideas for Change in America”!

Also posted on the new Get FISA Right blog

Happy new year!

My idea Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties finished #2 in the Criminal Justice category of change.org/MySpace’s Ideas for Change in America competition, and so has advanced to the second round.

We can revise the idea over the next couple of days (suggestions please!) and then second-round voting runs from January 5 to January 15.  We’ll be promoting it actively, of course.  There’ll be a press conference on January 16 to introduce the top 10, change.org will work with each of them to help build and promote national advocacy campaigns.  With change.org’s 200,000 members, proven ability to attack media attention, and a great list of partners for Ideas for Change in America, it’s a great opportunity …

And some really tough competition.

Continue Reading »

political
social computing
Tales from the Net

Comments (0)

Permalink