I’m not typically a joiner on the whole change-your-userpic/post-this-banner thing, but I wanted to mention the upcoming day of online protest against surveillance. To participate, you can find info on the The Day We Fight Back website.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard of it it sounded like a movie promo. Didn’t Independence Day have a tagline like that? Anyway…

Just changing your Facebook picture isn’t going to accomplish a whole lot, but a few things I’ve seen encouraged are much more practical:

First, and most important:

Write your Senators and Representative and tell them (politely) what you think about the NSA getting all up in everyone’s business. (They are doing it to everyone, including your Senators and Representative. You could mention that.)

If you are a US citizen, this is the single most useful thing you can do (presuming you don’t also have a boatload of money to follow it up with.) If you are in California, we have the special pleasure of being represented by Senator Feinstein, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee. And, no, I haven’t exactly been agreeing with her statements on this topic.

A comment on sending emails to politicians is in order, however: use an email address you don’t mind being forever subscribed to their mailing lists. Because you will.

Second, use HTTPS wherever possible (and if you run a website, get a cert and enable it for your users.) Most people don’t use encryption, and some law enforcement agencies have straight up said they consider encrypted communications to be suspicious on that basis alone. The more we do it routinely, not only the less unusual it is but also the harder it will be to lump everyone in as a terrorist-by-association.

Getting certs for my domains has been on the to-do list for a while, although I admit I haven’t done a whole lot about it. Paying for yet another thing is kinda annoying, so I haven’t gone that route. I tried to get a free one, but ran into problems because I don’t use the “correct” email as my domain contact. (You wouldn’t either, if you had a choice: spam galore.) One of these days I’ll figure that out.

Putting a banner on your site or posting to your own social media accounts is only valuable if it has the chance of encouraging someone else to do one of the above. Write your own tweet, blog post, interpretive dance, whatever, if that is your thing. Awareness is important, nothing starts without it. But action is what changes things. And technologists have for too long ignored how politics works.