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The Internet demonstrates against NSA surveillance Tuesday

The National Security Agency logo.

Nicolas Armer /DPA/LANDOV

Tuesday, online activists around the world will be participating in what's being called, "The Day We Fight Back."

It's meant to draw attention to the Internet surveillance done on Americans by the NSA, and to call on Congress to act and limit the agency's powers.

David Segal is the executive director of one of the protest organizers, Demand Progress, and he joined Take Two to explain what will be done, and how to measure success.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

What will be happening Tuesday and why?

We’re planning to drive tens of thousands of phone calls to Congress from activists across the country in support of reforms to the surveillance program and specifically the USA Freedom Act is our flagship concern. It would end the both metadata collection and institute other reforms to the surveillance programs to make them less intrusive and ensure that there are greater protections for Americans’ rights.

Similar protests like the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act were successful and legislation was defeated. How successful do you anticipate this will be?

Those actions were successful after many different pushes over the course of about a year and we think this is equivalent to one of the earlier efforts that drove tens of thousands of emails and phone calls to Congress and helped slow those bills down.

But we’re going to need to be persistent and come back again and again over the course of coming months.

How will people notice this movement Tuesday since major sites aren’t going dark?

Major sites like Reddit and Tumblr will take part in various ways tomorrow, as will dozens of organizations including groups like the ACLU. Together those organizations, though they don’t generate billions of hits every day as Google plus Wikipedia do, they generate tens of millions and it's plenty to drive enough constituents to contact that the powers-that-be will surely take note.

Last week the Obama administration announced that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved some of the changes that the President proposed, including that telephone data only be mined after the court deem a situation a true emergency. There’s also limitations on the extent of the data that can be mined. What do you make of these moves, is it enough?

Some of the reforms are legitimate, others are fundamentally cosmetic. For instance, he wants us to shift the warehousing of the telephone records of tens of millions of ordinary Americans from the government to the telephone companies. We want an end to bulk data collection in its entirety.

In order to do its job, the NSA has to access some information so where is the middle ground?

Members of the intelligence committee who have access to information broadly about how these programs operate have indicated that they have seen no evidence whatsoever that these programs have helped prevent terrorist attacks or are necessary to do so.

I’m more inclined to trust them than to trust people operating in secret and obfuscating these powers and claiming them based on a secret interpretation of a law who have been demonstrated to have lied to the Americans time and time again. 


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