The day the world fought back

In the last year, the world learned that mass surveillance by governments knows no bounds.

In 2013, documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed dozens of wide-ranging intelligence collection programs underway in countries around the globe. His documents showed that intelligence bodies, or really our Governments, capture personal information about nearly everyone on the planet.

These mass surveillance programs are in violation of our fundamental human rights. They violate our right to privacy and infringe on our rights to freedom of expression and association. They harm the freedom and openness of the global internet, and erode our democratic values.

Today, February 11th, internet users around the world are standing together. Today, individuals, civil society organisations, and thousands of websites will let the world’s governments know that we reject global mass surveillance at home and overseas. Today, we fight back.

People will take the streets in protest in the Philippines, Copenhagen, Stockholm and San Francisco. They will call or write their elected representatives in United Kingdom, Canada, Colombia and Poland. They will hold news conferences or join the online protests in Uganda, Mexico, Brazil and Australia. And they will endorse the Necessary and Proportionate Principles demanding the protection of human rights and an end to mass surveillance.

The Necessary and Proportionate Principles

Over the past year, more than 360 organisations in over 70 countries have come together to support the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. These thirteen Principles are the backbone of our efforts to end mass surveillance: a clear set of guidelines that we demand any government must follow when it comes to our surveillance.

These Principles were developed through months of consultation with technology, privacy, and human rights experts from around the world. And today are going to receive their most important endorsement: the people’s.

The Principles make clear:

  1. States must recognize that mass surveillance threatens the human right to privacy, freedom of expression, and association, and they must place these Principles at the heart of their communications laws and practices.

  2. States must commit to ensuring that advances in technology do not lead to disproportionate increases in the State’s capacity to interfere with the private lives of individuals.

  3. Transparency and oversight is needed to ensure changes surveillance practices are publicly debated, including effective protection for whistleblowers.

  4. Just as modern surveillance transcends borders, so must privacy protections.

What are these principles?


Limits on the right to privacy must be set out clearly and precisely in laws. These laws should be regularly reviewed to ensure they keep up with technology changes.


Surveillance should only be allowed in to achieve essential Government objectives.


Governments must prove surveillance activities are necessary to achieving these objectives.


Surveillance should only be allowed if it is proven to be effective in achieving these objectives.


Communications surveillance should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that interferes with the rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression, threatening the foundations of a democratic society. Therefore, the use of surveillance will require approval from a competent judicial authority.


Decisions about communications surveillance (i.e. its use, its individual scope and when and how it should be ceased) must be made by a competent judicial authority that is impartial and independent.


Due process requires that any interference with human rights is governed by lawful procedures which are publicly available and applied consistently in a fair and public hearing.


People should be notified of a decision authorising surveillance of their communications and be provided an opportunity to challenge such surveillance before it occurs, except in certain exceptional circumstances.


The government is required to make enough information publicly available so the public can understand the scope and nature of surveillance activities. The government should not ban service providers from publishing details on the scope and nature of their own surveillance-related dealings with State.


Governments should establish independent oversight mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability of communications surveillance. Oversight mechanisms should have the authority to access all potentially relevant information about Government actions.


Service providers or hardware or software vendors should not be forced to build surveillance capabilities or backdoors into their systems or to collect or retain particular information purely for Government surveillance purposes.


On occasion, Governments may seek help from foreign service providers to conduct surveillance. Any agreement that a Government signs with a foreign service provider must be publicly available and meet a standard to use privacy is protected as strongly as possible.


There should be civil and criminal penalties imposed on any party responsible for illegal electronic surveillance. People who have suffered from surveillance must has adequate legal mechanisms necessary for effective redress. Strong protection should also be afforded to whistleblowers who expose surveillance activities that threaten human rights.

The global day of action

This is truly a global movement, with actions and events planned around the world:

  • Argentina: Asociación por los Derechos Civiles and Vía Libre Foundation will announce that they are taking the oversight intelligence commission at the Argentinean Congress to the courts. ADC, FVL, and Instituto Latinoamericano de Seguridad y Democracia—a local NGO founder of the Citizens’ Initiative for Control of Intelligence Agencies—has asked for basic information on local intelligence oversight mechanisms at Congress.

  • Australia: A coalition of major organizations will call on the Australian government to undertake a comprehensive review of the mass surveillance activities carried out by the Australian security agencies and their Five Eyes partners, and to implement a number of meaningful privacy protections.  A joint press conference will be held at the Parliament House in Canberra on the morning of Feb. 11, which is the first sitting day of the Australian parliament for 2014. They will also launch the Citizens, Not Suspects campaign to fight back against unchecked surveillance.

  • Brazil: Brazilian legislators are gathering to vote on the Marco Civil, Brazil’s groundbreaking framework on digital rights. Brazilians are organizing a meeting in the country’s capital, Brasilia, to demand that the final version protects the privacy rights of Brazilian citizens.

  • Canada: More than 45 major organizations, over a dozen academic experts, and tens of thousands of Canadians are calling on their elected representatives to stop illegal spying by Communications Security Establishment Canada, Canada’s spying agency.

  • Colombia: Colombians will launch the campaign “Internet sin Chuzadas,” calling for the end of unchecked surveillance at home and abroad. They will also launch a video on how online spying works and what they can do to protect themselves against it.

  • France: La Quadrature du Net will launch the website NSA Observer, an aggregation of public information about the NSA global surveillance programs, as well a short animation “Reclaim your Privacy” about privacy, mass surveillance, and the urgency to rethink our relationship with technology.

  • Philippines: The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) is organizing a day of mass action against the country’s draconian Cybercrime Prevention Act, including a protest at the Supreme Court, a viral selfie campaign, and a “sticker bombing.”

  • Poland: Panoptykon Foundation will send a letter to President Barack Obama demanding answers about the NSA’s massive collection of data and international cooperation between intelligence agencies, which affects Polish citizens as well as all Europeans. Panoptykon Foundation will increase pressure on the Polish government to finish answering 100 questions on surveillance that the coalition of Polish NGOs posed four months ago.

  • Netherlands: Bits of Freedom will call on Dutch citizens to join The Day We Fight Back and share the campaign to stop mass surveillance: bespiedonsniet.nl (“Don’t Spy On Us”).

  • Serbia: SHARE Foundation will once again call upon Internet citizens to take a stand against mass surveillance by signing and supporting the 13 Principles against mass surveillance.

  • Uganda: Unwanted Witness is petitioning telecommunications companies to stop sharing citizen data with government agencies and other entities involved in mass surveillance.

  • United Kingdom: The UK’s leading privacy and free expression groups aisre launching the DontSpyOnUs.org.uk campaign, calling for organizations to help stop GCHQ’s mass surveillance programs.

  • United States: More than 4,000 websites and companies have committed to hosting TheDayWeFightBack widget on their website. Thousands of people will call and email their congressional representatives, demanding the passage of the USA Freedom Act and the end to mass surveillance.

  • International: The Web We Want invites cartoonists, creatives, and artists to join The Day We Fight Back on February 11, 2014 by creating an original cartoon about online surveillance and the right to privacy.

  • Much more here: https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action

What you can do:

  1. Take action: Go to TheDayWeFightBack.org.au and sign the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.

  2. Host TheDayWeFightBack widget: Add the code to your website, so that everyone who visits your site is encouraged to fight back by taking action. Go to TheDayWeFightBack.org.au website to learn more.

  3. Spread the word: Use social media to let your friends and family know they should take action. Tweet the below or make up your own:

Limited News is proud to stand with others around the world on this global day of action and support the above principles.

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