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Stop Watching Us: Mozilla Takes a Stand Against Government 'Spying'
By: Heather Ewert
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Last week, reports emerged that the U.S. government was acquiring private data on users from Internet and phone companies. This data is obtained by the National Security Agency through top-secret surveillance programs, which indicates that the NSA could potentially have access to anything from recorded domestic phone calls to users’ online movements, which are tracked in the cloud. Naturally, the potential impact of the government obtaining U.S. citizens’ private data could be devastating — it seems to directly compromise freedom of speech, the freedom to associate anonymously, and the right to protect privacy. Indeed, a number of people and organizations have been outspoken against the surveillance, greeting the news with disdain and outrage.

Already, a coalition of more than 80 organizations, public figures, private individuals, and certain Congress members is prepared to call on the NSA to cease surveillance. This is a bold move for any person to make, let alone a public figure; it is especially conspicuous for a large company. But Internet businesses are gladly speaking up: Reddit, BoingBoing, DuckDuckGo, The Other 98%, Occupy Wall Street, RootsAction.org, Daily Kos, and Mozilla are all enthusiastic supporters of the coalition.

With over 500 million active users, Mozilla is by far the loudest and most influential of the Internet companies involved. In an open letter to the National Security Agency, Mozilla states their case clearly and concisely: Do not watch us online. We deserve privacy, and are guaranteed it by the constitution of the United States. What you are doing violates the constitution. To really drive the point home, they further elaborated on the potential impact of what they called “government spying” in their latest blog post:

"Mozilla believes in an Internet where we do not have to fear that everything we do is being tracked, monitored and logged by either companies or governments," wrote Alex Fowler, who is chief privacy officer for Mozilla. In his post, he breaks down the potential results of the National Security Agency’s surveillance apparatus, and states that an investigatory committee needs to provide a full account of the surveillance and hold those responsible accountable. He then directs like-minded supporters to StopWatching.Us, where they can send a letter to politicians, sign a petition, and stay up to date on the latest news regarding the campaign’s progress.

Mozilla has aligned itself with a number of liberal ideologies in the past, and it is currently standing side-by-side with similar progressive organizations. In his blog post, Fowler emphasized that the company is fighting both for their users and for their users’ right to privacy. He goes on to provide links to several privacy control settings and apps that users can download to enhance security during their browsing experiences. But he also warns that government-level surveillance is an entirely separate issue, as court orders to share information require companies to fork over private data, regardless of privacy agreements.

Sometimes, brands take political stances or support certain issues in order to overcome the notion that they don’t listen to their customers. Other times, they do it to align themselves with the progressive youth or sometimes they try to cash in on current hot topics. In this instance, Mozilla is maintaining their progressive identity and pushing forward in an attempt to lead a crusade against Internet privacy injustice. It’s bold and effective: if you recall, SOPA was stopped in a similar manner. It's subversive, and paints Mozilla as a hero. 

What do you think of Mozilla’s move?

And, if you’re interested in reading more about the coalition, visit https://optin.stopwatching.us/.


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About the Author
Heather Ewert is a content writer for an internet marketing company. She enjoys creative writing as well and blogs in her personal time at http://infernoofcool.wordpress.com/. She lives in sunny Southern California with her boyfriend, Snowshoe kitty, and her collection of Warcraft novels.
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