Greenpeace joins civil rights and privacy activists today around the world in the “The Day We Fight Back,” a moment of collective Internet protest against National Security Agency mass surveillance. Thousands of web sites hosted banners urging people to demand that the U.S. Congress pass legislation to curtail the illegal collection and use of Americans’ information.
This is not the first time a broad coalition of websites and organizations have united against unprecedented spying on citizens. More than 8,000 sites went dark in 2012 to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), two bills that would have placed restrictive censorship and control over the Internet. Both SOPA and PIPA died in committee.
So why is an environmental organization like Greenpeace weighing in on the NSA spying program, and the civil and privacy rights that are being infringed upon?
Rights – civil rights, economic rights, environmental rights – are a bundle. They rise or fall together. Greenpeace has repeatedly 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. If we want to have a healthy environment, we need a free Internet, and the NSA’s illegal surveillance program poses a threat to the Internet’s potential to help people organize democratically and fight for their environmental rights.
This is not the first time we have weighed in to help “save” the Internet, and it will not be the last:
- Last July, following the exposure of the NSA surveillance program by Edward Snowden, Greenpeace filed a joint lawsuit with many of the organizations taking part in the thedaywefightback.org/ to challenge the warrantless collection of telephone metadata. (That suit is currently pending in US Federal Court.)
- In January 2012, Greenpeace was one of 8,000 organizational websites around the world who stood together to Stop SOPA, U.S. legislation which could have given corporations the right to censor the Internet.
- To ensure the internet is a force for driving renewable energy, not increase demand for coal, Greenpeace’s Clean our Cloud campaign has been successful in leading some of the internet’s biggest players, including Apple, Facebook, and Google to commit to building an internet that is 100 percent renewably powered.