Mozilla Helps Launch Coalition to Stop NSA Spy Dragnet

Browser wants other Internet companies to join the campaign

Mozilla was out front and center for the launch of Stop Watching Us, a coalition of more than 80 civil liberties and privacy organizations calling for an end to what they call spying by the National Security Agency.

"Privacy and security on the Internet is not an option," said Alex Fowler, chief privacy officer for Mozilla, who added that it didn't matter if privacy was violated by either companies or governments. "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."

As part of the campaign, the coalition has sent a letter to every member of Congress calling for a congressional investigatory committee to provide a full accounting of the "blanket surveillance of Internet activity and phone records." It also launched a petition on its website. Later, the group plans to organize a phone campaign to call lawmakers, a tactic that worked well in helping to stop the Stop Online Privacy Act.

Mozilla said it would also use its Firefox browser to recruit users, by pushing out messages on the default homepage to its 500 million global users.

During a press conference organized Tuesday by Free Press, representative members of the coalition expressed the hope that other big Internet companies, like Google or Facebook, would join the group in order to win back the public's trust that their privacy was not being violated.

While Reddit and DuckDuckGo are part of the coalition, Mozilla is the biggest name among Internet companies. Other members of the coalition include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the World Wide Web Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Public Knowledge, and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Fowler said he's already had some conversations with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and that there was "a growing sense of outrage."

Even advertising tracking may not be immune. "One of the things that concerns me is the way we've built the advertising ecosystem. The number of third parties that have the ability to track users does create a vast network of databases that could be swept up in these cyber dragnets. We don't know that's occurring, but it could be ripe for these type of surveillance programs," Fowler warned.

Publish date: June 11, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT