February 11 was the day chosen by a large group of activists to be “the day we fight back” against the NSA and government surveillance. Online and offline protest raised awareness, caught the attention of Congress and inspired a class action lawsuit by Senator Rand Paul. But as with most protest movements, one day rarely results in sweeping change.
Instead, single day events, like the Internet blackout, are usually big for focused change. However, the message for The Day We Fight Back was broader. While there were two specific bills mentioned, there was nowhere the traction that the SOPA and PIPA protests gained. That is not to say the protests were completely ineffective. According to CNET, nearly 80,000 calls were made to Congress and 160,000 emails were sent to representatives.
Senator Rand Paul expressed support for the campaign on his Facebook page in a post that generated more than 19,000 Likes. Rather than stop at raising awareness, Senator Paul filed a class action lawsuit in conjunction with the President of FreedomWorks Matt Kibbe. The lawsuit names President Obama and NSA Director Keith Alexander, among others. The aim of the suit is to reign in the surveillance infrastructure until it complies with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Rainey Reitman, director of the activist team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote a post about the protests. She praised the progress made by the activists saying, “We’ve done more in this single day to pressure the U.S. Congress to reform surveillance law than what months or even years of lobbying to date have accomplished.” And while strides have been made, no single day will be enough to dismantle the security spying infrastructure.
“But defending freedom online is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ll need to show them, day after day, that we won’t compromise or accept reforms that fall short,” wrote Reitman.
Image credit: Electronic Frontier Foundation