Last week, media reports emerged that the US government is requiring vast amounts of data from Internet and phone companies via top secret surveillance programs. The revelations, which confirm many of our worst fears, raise serious questions about individual privacy protections, checks on government power and court orders impacting some of the most popular Web services. Today Mozilla is launching StopWatching.Us — a campaign sponsored by a broad coalition of organizations from across the political and technical spectrum calling on citizens and organizations from around the world to demand a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored. – The Mozilla Blog
Dominant Social Theme: Corporate America will set us free.
Free-Market Analysis: Mozilla is striking a blow against US government snooping. This was predictable, though the level of hypocrisy is high, indeed. In the above excerpt, Mozilla states that revelations about government snooping "confirm our worst fears."
But Mozilla gets most of its revenue from Google, which is a virtual partner of the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. The relationship between Google and US Intel is so close that Google is rumored to have set up a dedicated back-end that allows government agents to manipulate data almost at will.
Mozilla's biggest client is Google. It highly unlikely, in our humble opinion, that those at the top of Mozilla did not know with some certainty what relationships there were between Google and the US government. Yet all this is to be blasted down the memory hole. Mozilla is now incredibly concerned about this close relationship and wants US citizens to petition Congress to be more transparent about US Intel activities.
Here's how Wikipedia describes Mozilla:
On February 23, 1998, Netscape Communications Corporation created a project called Mozilla (after the original code name of the Netscape Navigator browser which — according to Pascal Finette — is a portmanteau of "Mosaic Killer") to co-ordinate the development of the Mozilla Application Suite, the open source version of Netscape's internet software, Netscape Communicator. Jamie Zawinski says he came up with the name "Mozilla" at a Netscape staff meeting. A small group of Netscape employees were tasked with coordination of the new community.
Originally, Mozilla aimed to be a technology provider for companies, such as Netscape, who would commercialize their open source code. When AOL (Netscape's parent company) drastically scaled back its involvement with Mozilla in July 2003, the Mozilla Foundation was launched as the legal steward of the project. Soon after, Mozilla deprecated the Mozilla Suite in favor of creating independent applications for each function, primarily the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client, and moved to supply them direct to the public.
Recently, Mozilla's activities have expanded to include Firefox on mobile platforms (primarily Android), a mobile OS called Firefox OS, a web-based identity system called Mozilla Persona and a marketplace for HTML5 applications.
In a report released in November of 2012, Mozilla reported that their total revenue for 2011 was $163 million, which was up 33% from $123 million in 2010. Mozilla noted that roughly 85% of their revenue comes from their contract with Google.
Obviously, Mozilla is highly entangled in the web of what we could call the US military-technology-intel complex.
But they are certainly acting as if they are not. Below, we've pulled the text of the petition that Mozilla has placed online. It is a letter addressed to Congress. You can see the website here: https://optin.stopwatching.us/
Stop Watching Us.
The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.
Dear Members of Congress,
We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.
The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by an intelligence contractor showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.
Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other "identifying information" for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.
This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures and protect their right to privacy.
We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:
Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Mozilla wants those involved in intel spying "held accountable." But that would mean sending half of the top men of Silicon Valley to jail, in our view. (Not that we advocate the current US penal-oriented justice system.)
In any event, the spectacle of US corporations attempting to take the lead in some sort of civil disobedience movement is at least disconcerting. Silicon Valley and its corporate entities are no less responsible for the current state of the US Leviathan than the million-plus spooks and spook-affiliated operatives that work for the US Intel community.
It is not Congressional protests that will change the texture and fabric of US authoritarianism but individual "human action." Each person comes to his or her own conclusions about what is going on and making a personal decision to educate others and to remove himself from the system as best as is possible. We are not advocating law-breaking, just "dropping out" of activities that support the current coercive Leviathan.
The great Harry Browne once wrote a book entitled, How to Live Free in an Unfree World. We recommend it.