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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Edward Snowden, Internet's largest websites join Reset the Net

Edward Snowden and Internet's largest websites join Fight for the Future campaign to "Reset the Net" against government mass surveillance

Companies, trade groups, consumer organizations and Internet users form growing backlash against government spying programs and move to directly block it on the Internet

Reset the Net - June 5, 2014Fight for the Future and its partners launched Reset the Net today, a national backlash campaign comprised of internet users and tech companies who commit taking back their right to privacy and protecting the Internet by using NSA-resistant privacy tools on their devices, and to take their privacy back — one user, one cat video, one device at a time. Reset the Net demands that web services take concrete steps to protect their users from government snooping, while encouraging the spread of free and open source privacy tools.

"It's been one year since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the U.S. government's abusive spying programs. In that time Congress and the Obama Administration have failed to protect our rights," said Tiffiniy Cheng, spokesperson for Fight for the Future. "Now, they've got a rebellion on their hands as tech companies and internet users work together to directly intervene in mass surveillance and block the NSA and its kind from the web."

Edward Snowden issued a statement via his attorney supporting the Reset the Net campaign:

"Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications ... that's why I'm asking you to join me on June 5 for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance ... don't ask for your privacy. Take it back."

Cheng continued, "In the last year the public has spoken: mass surveillance is illegitimate. It's fundamentally at odds with democracy. Governments that abuse the Internet to invade our privacy will lose their credibility in the eyes of the world."

Reset the Net is backed by some of the largest internet companies and advocacy organizations in the world who have committed to taking steps to protect internet users' privacy, from reddit and Mozilla to Amnesty International and the ACLU, all calling for the integration of basic security features into internet services that will prevent their exploitation, and helping promote a Privacy Pack with free, easy-to-use, open source software that all users can use to protect themselves. Internet giant Google made available the source code for End-to-End, a Chrome extension that provides encryption for both sides of an email exchange.

"Mass surveillance is not inevitable. We believe we can make it too expensive and too difficult to bulk collect our data," said Cheng. "Starting today, we will turn more and more parts of the Internet into places the NSA and other governments cannot see. Who in Congress is going to ask for more money to take away the human rights that citizens have taken back?"

The Reset the Net website will allow users to pledge their support in trying and sharing privacy tools as well as provide resources that allow for end-to-end encryption of data.

To find out more about the Reset the Net movement, please visit: https://www.resetthenet.org/ and follow the hashtag #ResetTheNet on Twitter.

About Fight for the Future

Fight for the Future works to activate the Internet community to fight for a free and open Internet., and our basic rights and freedoms. Founded in 2011, we're known for effective, viral organizing and mass engagement through the distributed organizing platforms we've built, including the Internet Defense League. For more information, visit www.fightforthefuture.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

How are companies and organizations supporting the Reset the Net movement?

  • Reset the Net was called for and organized by Fight for the Future, the digital rights group that launched the first protest against SOPA, and built many of the tools used on the Jan. 18 SOPA blackout.
  • Please note: Several major Internet companies will be joining Reset the Net on June 5; watch for announcements.
  • reddit is offering running free ads to promote privacy tools voted on by redditors, and are promoting the Reset the Net privacy pack on June 5.
  • CREDO Mobile is encouraging customers and members to download the Privacy Pack to secure their devices.
  • Leading domain registrar Namecheap has already sold thousands of discounted SSL domains as part of a Reset the Net promotion, with a portion of the proceeds going to Fight for the Future.
  • The world's most popular image hosting service, imgur, is promoting a Reset the Net infographic on their frontpage and encouraging users to adopt privacy tools.
  • Google announced in a blog post that they are joining Reset the Net and launching a new, open-source, end-to-end encrypted email project. They are also promoting apps from the Privacy Pack in the Google Play store on June 5.
  • Mozilla, creator of Firefox, is joining the Reset the Net campaign by encouraging its community to take the pledge, and to use the security tools in Firefox.
  • Diverse advocacy groups are supporting the campaign including the ACLU, Demand Progress, Libertarian Party, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Our America Initiative, Popular Resistance, Free Press, Open Technology Institute, RootsAction, and Free Software Foundation.
  • More than 5,000 people have joined a simultaneous social media Thunderclap for June 5, including actor Mark Ruffalo, musician Amanda Palmer, and author Cory Doctorow, for a total social reach of more than 8 million people. Thunderclap is also running the splash screen.
  • Private Internet Access, a no-log VPN service dedicated to privacy, helped fund the Reset the Net video, and is encouraging users to adopt privacy tools on June 5.
  • Reform Government Surveillance, a coalition of the Internet's largest companies, including AOL, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, and Yahoo, is is participating in Reset the Net by running the splash screen on ReformGovernmentSurveillance.org on June 5 to promote the privacy pack.
  • BoingBoing, a top Internet blog, is announcing that they will be adding SSL by default to protect their readers privacy, and will be adding the Privacy Pack as a permanent section of the site to encourage the use of encryption.
  • Mojang, makers of Minecraft, are joining in and spreading privacy tools to all of their gamers.
  • CloudFlare is supporting Reset the Net and promoting the splash screen to their users.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation is participating in the Reset the Net campaign by encouraging its members to run Tor Relays and promote privacy tools.
  • DuckDuckGo, SpiderOak, Disconnect.Me, Thunderclap, Piwik, Goldenfrog, Crowdtilt, Silent Circle, and thousands of other websites will promote the privacy pack on June 5 as part of Reset the Net.
  • ThoughtWorks, a global software company, is joining the Reset the Net campaign by sponsoring more privacy trainings called "CryptoRaves" and announced they are developing secure email open source software.
  • Briar will launch an encrypted messaging app that works with or with or without Internet access.
  • Techdirt, iFixit, and dozens of other popular sites are switching to SSL by default within the year to protect their readers' privacy.
  • Student Net Alliance, an international student organization dedicated to online activism, is participating in Reset the Net by pressuring universities to protect free speech and student privacy on campus.
  • CodePink and others are planning a protest at Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco at 12 noon on June 5 in support of Reset the Net.
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee is organizing a crypto-training in Washington, D.C., and releasing a surveillance-themed music video.

Statements from participating companies and organizations supporting Reset the Net

Carla Howell, political director for the Libertarian National Committee, said, "The Libertarian Party enthusiastically joins Reset the Net. Over thirty Libertarian candidates running for federal office this year have pledged to shut down the NSA and invite Edward Snowden to return home a free man. He should be granted an immediate presidential pardon, awarded the American Medal of Freedom, and applauded for blowing the whistle on the NSA's abuse of the Constitution."

Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap, said, "Namecheap has a long history of supporting privacy and freedom of expression online. We've always worked hard to preserve and protect our customers' rights. So we're thrilled to participate in resetting the net in this positive way,"

Michael Kieschnick, CEO of CREDO Mobile, said, "It's been an entire year since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's unconstitutional and warrantless mass surveillance programs, but Congress and the president still have not reined in the NSA to stop these abuses. Until our government meaningfully reforms its surveillance programs to bring them in line with the 1st and 4th amendments, we will encourage users to adopt encryption tools to protect personal communications."

Erik Martin, general manager of reddit, said, "The Internet is most powerful tool humans have ever had to connect people to information and connect them to each other. The Internet has so much potential to create good in the world and put a dent on some of the big problems in the world, and that's why people are so ferociously motivated to defend it. reddit couldn't operate in a world without freedom of expression, but that's the future that we face if we allow surveillance to continue unchecked. We are proud to have been an early supporter of Reset the Net, and we look forward to doing everything in our power as a company to encourage the use of privacy technology that protects Internet users' human rights."

Andrew Lee of Private Internet Access said, "Privacy is a fundamental human right. Unless we act now, we risk losing everything: our rights, our individuality, our freedom of speech. We have a rare opportunity to turn the tables and restore the Internet to the way it should be. Private Internet Access works every day to make the web a safer place for all, we're proud to help Reset the Net on June 5."

Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance, said, "The watering-down of the USA Freedom Act demonstrates that Internet citizens will have to take their online safety and security into their own hands. Reset the Net is a crucial first step in restoring the innovative and creative potential of the Internet."

Felicity Ruby, Internet policy director of Thoughtworks, said, "Given the absence of meaningful government or industry reform one year after the shocking revelations of Edward Snowden, Internet users need to take their own privacy seriously. ThoughtWorks is committed to securing communications - both our own and those of our clients and the general public - from dragnet and illegitimate government mass surveillance and unfettered data mining for commercial purposes. To that end we have begun the development of a secure, encrypted email solution that will be open source software."

Amie Stepanovich, senior policy counsel of Access, said, "Governments should not be able to treat the internet as a digital panopticon for untargeted, indiscriminate surveillance. One tool for us to prevent this from happening is wide scale adoption of encryption technologies. We applaud the many companies and individuals who are taking steps to cut off unauthorized access to user data, but we can and must do more. We must take back the internet, encrypt all the things, and stop mass surveillance."

Ben Kroetz, Online Director of Greenpeace, said, "Greenpeace has learned firsthand during the past 40 years that people cannot protect their right to a clean environment if our civil rights – including the right to free association and the right to be free of unreasonable searches – are stripped away. A healthy democracy is necessary for a healthy environment, and democracy cannot thrive where a government illegally spies on its citizens as the NSA is doing now."

Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.org, said: "At the end of the day, we're going to have to create accountability for governments that are spying on their citizens. And it's sad that people feel they need to route around what their government is doing - this shows just how far governments have grown out of touch with their citizens. It's so important that people speak out in any way they can about surveillance, and using encryption technologies is one way to do that."

Ethan Oberman, CEO of SpiderOak said "The Snowden revelations not only raised the level of awareness around privacy but also intrinsically changed the way people think about their online presence. It is wonderful that there is more awareness around this issue and even more wonderful to see the advancements that companies have made in the past year, especially around data encryption. However, privacy on the Internet has been a known problem for a long time, and the solution will not arrive overnight despite public outcries. We are starting to see a shift in the way companies handle user privacy but it will take a while before the Internet as a whole adapts to new privacy standards. In the end, everything evolves and so will our ability to use technology to ensure a greater level of privacy online. And the Snowden leak will forever be a turning point in the conversation and a catalyst around the cause."

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said, "Demand Progress is committed to fighting for legislative reforms to protect user privacy and our civil liberties. But until those reforms vest — or if they don't — the Internet is too important to leave unprotected. We are supporting Reset the Net in order to protect our rights to privacy and to free association. It's time to turn on encryption by default."

Kevin Bankston, policy director at Open Technology Institute, said, "The Open Technology Institute is excited to support Reset the Net and highlight the need for all of us – both individual internet users and the companies that serve them – to take full advantage of encryption and other security tools that can help protect our private data against snoops, spies, criminals and creeps. Strong encryption tools are one of our best defenses against the sort of indiscriminate bulk surveillance that the Snowden revelations have revealed."

Josh Levy of Free Press said, "Our right to free expression depends on access to open and secure communications networks. And the NSA's surveillance programs are some of the most serious attacks on these networks — and their users — we've ever seen. Free Press is proud to have co-founded the StopWatching.Us coalition, which launched one year ago, to lead the fight to restore our rights to connect and communicate in private. Today we're supporting the Reset the Net effort by making a number of changes to our websites to protect users' privacy, including the removal of all tracking cookies and beacons. We look forward to continuing the fight against mass surveillance in Congress, in the courts, online and in the streets."

John Sullivan, executive director, Free Software Foundation, said, "None of the companies or governments fighting to control the Internet treat your freedom and privacy as any priority. Maybe we can make them change over time, but today we can act without their permission to protect ourselves and our networks, using free software they don't control."

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said, "Everyone, including app makers, websites, and the public, needs to practice good digital hygiene and take the right steps to protect personal security. Together, we can make it much harder to snoop on our lives online."

Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said, "Americans entrust the most intimate details of their lives to large technology and communications companies. For too long, these companies failed to secure their customers' information, leaving it vulnerable to dragnet government surveillance. It's time for that to change. It's time to protect our data, to deploy best-practice security and privacy enhancing technologies, and to ensure that governments everywhere have to knock on the front door – with a court order – rather than sneak in the back door to steal our data."