Anniversary of Snowden revelations: The year we fight back

By EDRi · June 4, 2014

On 5 June 2013, the Guardian published Edward Snowden’s first documents. These showed that the NSA was using a secret court order to collect millions of customers’ phone calls of the US company Verizon. Snowden’s subsequent disclosures confirmed what many privacy activists were suspecting for a long time: that the US government and its allies are collecting every bit of information they can – including our communications, relationships and location. In addition to the mass surveillance programmes, the NSA has used different tactics, recklessly making use of the Internet less secure, such as by the weakening of encryption standards and the deployment of malware.

One year later, over 400 human rights organisations from around the globe are mobilising on a day of action in order to mark the leap into a new era of awareness of these activities and to reinvigorate demands for change. If you want to join this global day of action, find out what is going on in your country:

In the European Union


United Kingdom:

  • On 7 June, at a major public event in central London, the “Don’t Spy on Us Coalition” will be expanding their battle to stop the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spying on Britons. Hosted by The Guardian, event speakers will include Cory Doctorow, Alan Rusbridger, Bruce Schneier, Neil Tennant, Shami Chakribarti, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Claude Moraes MEP, Ian Brown, Caspar Bowden, Gabrielle Guillemin, and more.
    Don’t Spy on Us Coalition: and


  • The anniversary of first Snowden revelations coincides with the celebration of 25 years of freedom in Poland and the overthrow of communism. President Obama and many other heads of state will be visiting, including politicians from countries that were affected by the NSA mass surveillance scandal. EDRi-member Panoptykon will be using the visit to highlight the importance of the right to freedom of speech and privacy in a country that overthrew an oppressive regime and understands the dangers of ubiquitous surveillance. The organisation will encourage citizens, activists, journalists and public figures to publish pictures of themselves while holding a piece of paper saying that “Surveillance is not freedom. Say it on the 4th of June.” The pictures will be shared online, tagged #ObamaPL and #25latwolnosci. In the week following the anniversaries, Panoptykon will celebrate its fifth birthday with a series of privacy workshops dealing with email encryption and the basics of privacy and security online, including a cryptoparty supported by Warsaw’s hackerspace.
    Panoptykon’s fifth birthday:



  • In Barcelona on 4-5 June, the Association for Progressive Communications is holding “Take Back The Net”, where human rights activists and companies will come together to share knowledge on how surveillance affects them, and cooperate to teach the latest tools to the people who need them. You can join Take Back the Net online or offline, or hold a cryptoparty in your own neighbourhood (as Snowden did in Hawaii back in 2012).
    Back The Net:

Around the world:


  • In Canada, and the “Protect Our Privacy Coalition” will be ramping up their campaign for effective legal measures to protect every resident of Canada from government surveillance. will be supporting the Reset The Net initiative, and encouraging use of encryption as a way people can fight mass surveillance. They will also be intensifying efforts aimed at Canadian Members of Parliament and at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging him to take responsibility for his government’s actions and defend online privacy.
    Protect Our Privacy Coalition: and

United States:

  • Fight For the Future in cooperation with a broad coalition of NGOs and companies is launching a campaign to take technical steps to take back our privacy with “Reset The Net”. Thousands have already pledged to take steps to protect their freedom from government mass surveillance. The campaign is asking everyone to help by installing free software tools that are designed to protect your privacy on a computer or a mobile device. Reset the Net is also calling on websites and developers to add security features, like HTTPS and forward secrecy.
    Reset The Net: and
  • EDRi-member Access’s “Encrypt All The Things” is another initiative that will be ramping up the pressure on Internet platforms to lock down their data against spying on 5 June.
    Encrypt all the things:


  • A year after Snowden’s leaks on mass surveillance from the NSA, the Mexican people are reasserting their fight for net neutrality, privacy and freedom of speech in their fierce opposition to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s telecommunications bill, which would turn the Mexican Internet into an instrument of surveillance and control. Through the #DefenderInternet (Defending Internet) campaign -and the support from the French activist organization La Quadrature du Net – Mexican activists have developed a site that lets Mexicans call lawmakers to demand that they put human rights at the core of any new bill. Defender Internet:


  • During 6, 7 and 8 June SHARE Defense will be transforming Yanukovych residence Mezhyhirya near Kiev into a knowledge-sharing platform. Activists will gather to share experiences and discuss issues related to freedom of speech, investigative journalism, digital security and activism in the form of lectures, open discussions and workshops. On 22 February, following the end of the Yanukovych government and his abrupt departure, the Mezhyhirya compound, his residence in the Kiev countryside, was opened to protesters, activists and journalists. This led to the discovery of more than 200 folders of documents detailing the former president’s activities. At the event, SHARE Defense will present final analysis of the documents together with a new documentary about YanukovychLeaks:


  • In Colombia, the digital rights group Fundación Karisma will organize a workshop bringing together journalists and security experts to create a new generation of tech-savvy researchers who’ll be able to protect their sources using a new generation of secure journalist tools.
    Fundación Karisma:


Further reading:

First Snowden revelation, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order (05.06.2013)

They knew our secrets. One year later, we know theirs. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) timeline

Bruce Schneier: NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure

Guardian: The NSA files

Al Jazeera: Timeline of Edward Snowden’s revelations

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler, EDRi)