Freedom Verizon. Also, during various interviews, government officials have

Freedom of Information activist versus Big Brother

            In some respects, living in the
digital age has its benefits such as being able to communicate with anyone
across the world, and social media has made a huge impact in today’s society by
bringing the whole world together in various platforms. However, over the past
few years, there has been plenty of sources revealing to the public that major
government agencies, such as the US’s NSA, are storing information about their
citizens through cell phone records, monitor communications and can analyze
people’s thoughts by the data mining google searches and other online activity.

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            While the NSA claims to have exposed
a number of terrorist plots by acquiring information through methods like cable
tapping and cell phone recordings, there are still major concerns about
people’s privacy and personal information. In fact, it has come to light that
these government agencies are tapping into the country’s communications and
internet networks by secretly obtaining warrantless access to billions of phone
records of American citizens, including major telecom companies such as AT
and Verizon. Also, during various interviews, government officials have been
noticed to deny the fact that they hold any kind of information about their
citizens, which have been described as “telling carefully constructed lies”, as
Orwell wrote in his novel 1984. To
think that in this day and age the government spies on his citizens is simply
terrifying, since no one really knows what they do with that information, and
takes away the feeling of privacy, even in the comfort of one’s home. The fact
that a novel written in 1949 predicted an entire nation’s future is
mind-blowing. Evidently, the US isn’t a totalitarian society, but the fact that
they have been storing their citizens information for nearly a century, it is
simply frightening to think what they could have access to in the foreseeable

            In response to these Government
Agencies’ actions previously mentioned,

 freedom of information activists and other
anonymous communities, such as WikiLeaks, have been trying to fight back and
exposing secret government documents and information, which has allowed them to
gain strength. Over the past few years the idea of “freedom of information” has
greatly increased online. Across various sites, the ideas of the potential of
the internet to change society, the need of new intellectual property laws, and
the danger of censorship have been increasing drastically. Groups such as
Anonymous, have the support of millions of people across the world, associating
themselves as online activists and “hacktivists”, hackers with the intention of
making a socialist community movement that seeks justice. The concept of
freedom of information argues for a greater government and complete corporate
transparency, which can include an argument for the dramatic revision or
removal of the current intellectual property regimes. These activists have
shown support towards WikiLeaks in large numbers, since the ease of online
protest means more people can participate.

            WikiLeaks acts as a whistleblowing
organization, which publishes documents acquired by anonymous sources. They
have been responsible for a number of information leaks about many countries
and corporations around the world. The site gained huge popularity after publishing
footage from an US Helicopter strike that killed Iraqi journalists and when
they published approximately 80,000 secret documents about the war in
Afghanistan. However, in November of 2010, WikiLeaks was the victim of a DDoS
(Distributed Denial of Service) attack carried out by unknown entities. The
site’s administrators moved the website to amazon, hoping that amazon’s cloud service
would protect them against another DDoS attack, however, the US government
pressured Amazon into removing the site out of their service, which left them
without a place to stay, and in turn it lost its infrastructure and most of its
lifeblood of donations.

            The following month, the only reason
WikiLeaks was still online was due to the work of Internet activists. One of
their many supporters was the International Pirate Party, which was founded to
advocate for the revision of current intellectual property regimes (Beyer, 2014).
The site ended up on a domain registered to the Swiss Pirate Party and it was
also duplicated by the international network of Pirate Parties. WikiLeaks
remained in the same domain hosted by the Swiss Pirate Party even after the US
and other governments pressured the Swiss government to remove the site, which
they refused. Other Pirate Parties were supportive of the Swiss Government, by also
hosting the site in other countries. The Pirate Party was founded in early 2006,
since they had concerns about the effect of copyright and patent law on the
privacy of individuals. The original Pirate Party, the Swedish branch, grew
from the increasing legal woes of the popular filesharing site, The Pirate Bay
(Beyer,2014). They gained a huge following over a short period of time, due to
a police raid on their website on May of the same year, this caused their
membership to double overnight, bringin it to about 3,600 members. Just 3 years
later their membership grew into 40,000 members after the guilty verdict of the
Pirate Bay trial. In fact, the Swedish Pirate Party became the third largest
youth organization in Sweden in 2009, and later that year they won two seats in
the European Parliament. This just comes to show how important and influential
these Online Activists Communities are in the fight against the illegal extreme
surveillance and storing of metadata being carried out by major Government Agencies
such as the US’ NSA.