10 ways to take back our privacy and ‘Restore the Fourth’

Tomorrow, activists across the country will gather to protest NSA spying on American citizens. Here's how to help reclaim our independence.

Tomorrow is both Independence Day and Restore the Fourth day, when activists across the Web will protest NSA spying and the gutting of our Constitutional rights to privacy. Here are ten ways you can join in.

1. Sign the petition

StopWatching.us has launched a petition that calls upon Congress to reform the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act to restore the rights they’ve violated in the guise of fighting terrorism.

ty4ns - pelead 4th - 400p.png
Source: Occupy Wall Street

You’ll be in excellent company. Among the other 500,000+ signees: Daniel Ellsburg, Tim Berners-Lee, and Wil Wheaton (aka Ensign Wesley Crusher from “Star Trek: Next Generation”), along with virtually every civil rights organization you can think of.

2. Take to the streets

Restore the Fourth, a movement started on Reddit in response to revelations about the NSA leaks, is planning more than 100 public protests in cities across the US. You can find the one nearest to you here, or just start one of your own.

ty4ns - yes we scan.png

Source: Facebook

3. Memorize the Fourth Amendment

It’s only 54 words, and it goes something like this:

ty4ns - FourthAmendment text.jpg

Source: John Jay College of Criminal Justice

4. Wear out the Fourth

Better yet, wear clothing with the Fourth Amendment printed on it so everyone can read it. There are plenty of choices, from T-shirts to boxers to sox. But my favorite is the one written in metallic ink so that it shows up when you go through an airport security scanner.

ty4ns - 4th amendment xray.png

Source: CargoCollective

5. Get it on your chest

If you’re really committed, you can write a tl;dr version of the 4th on your chest, like Aaron Tobey did in December 2010.

ty4ns - shirtless tobey.jpeg

Source: Wired

Tobey was detained at the Richmond International Airport in Virginia for displaying the amendment on his pecs while in the security line. He later sued the government and won $250,000.

6. Speak in code

While you’re at it, write it (and everything else) in a font the NSA’s supercomputers can’t read, like Sang Mun’s ZXX typeface.

blowing whistle cropped.png

Source: Walker Art Center

7. Engage in stealth computing

Take matters into your own hands. You can keep the NSA following you around the Web by using the NinjaStik, a privacy-enhanced Linux OS on a thumb drive. Or you can go whole hog and divorce yourself from Facebook, Twitter, Google, and all the rest.

ninjastik times three-400p.png

Source: NinjaStik

8. Contribute to Edward Snowden’s defense

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is raising money for whistleblower Ed Snowden’s defense, assuming he gets to mount one. (Current total raised so far is just over $30,000.) By now, I have to imagine the Moscow Airport snack machines have taken all of his rubles. You can contribute here.

ty4ns - snowden fund.png

Source: Progressive Change

9. Write your Congresshuman

Stop laughing. Let’s give our elected officials the benefit of doubt and assume that a) they know how to read, and b) they care.  You might start by sending him or her one of these post cards:

ty4ns - somecards 4th of july.png

Source: Someecards

OK you can start laughing again.

10. Recite that kickass speech from “Independence Day”

President Thomas Whitmore (aka actor Bill Pullman) kind of said it all in the 1996 blockbuster:

Here’s the salient text:

We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

And here it is in Chinese.

Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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