Restore the Fourth is a growing grassroots movement organizing nationwide pro-privacy rallies for July 4th, 2013. With July 4th just around the corner, we took the opportunity to interview Jett —a national organizer— to find out more about what's up with #restorethe4th.
First, an open-ended question: what does Restore the Fourth mean to you personally?
To me, Restore the Fourth is symbolic. The protests are taking place on July 4th, a date that commemorates the founding of a new country with new ideals free from oppression. Privacy rights aren’t only respected when the government feels like it, and they can’t simply be thrown away in the name of stopping crime. They’re universal, inherent to every person, American or not.
Do you see Restore the Fourth as only about Edward Snowden and PRISM, or is it about broader issues of privacy and state surveillance?
While Restore the Fourth as a movement was first created in light of Snowden and the NSA’s PRISM scandal, we were never intended to be specifically about that. We’re dedicated to focusing on overarching issues of privacy, both digitally and in the real world.
People of color are unjustly targeted through programs such as "stop and frisk" and the extensive monitoring of Arab and Muslim communities. Are these issues for Restore the Fourth?
Policies and tactics such as ‘stop and frisk’, that are employed by various police forces, are very much a concern for our organization. They’re arguably in violation of the 4th amendment of the United States, which protects from unreasonable searches and seizures. I believe that, moving forward, these may very well be issues at the forefront of our minds.
What would you say to occupiers and other activists who have been victims of intense federal, police, and even corporate surveillance?
Protect yourself. You may not be able to shake the surveillance, but you will be able to take steps in protecting yourself, your family and your private life from unnecessary surveillance. Secure your communications, strengthen your passwords, and check out http://prism-break.org/ for some privacy-secure alternatives to popular software.
Restore the Fourth is an American-based movement, but the U.S. and other nations are engaged in widespread surveillance of non-Americans all over the world. How do you feel we should go about building global solidarity around privacy rights?
As I’ve mentioned previously, I believe that there are a certain set of rights inherent to all humans on this planet - privacy and safety from surveillance being one of them. On a global level, it’s a bit more difficult to secure privacy rights, specifically because different jurisdictions have different laws and customs. Ideally, a network of support would be the best - people in China fighting for privacy rights with those in America supporting them, and vice versa.
Anonymous, anarchists, occupiers, and others are also planning diverse actions for July 4th. How do you distinguish Restore the Fourth as a tactical approach? Do you expect Restore the Fourth rallies will be safe events for people looking to avoid police violence and arrest?
Being non-partisan, Restore the Fourth doesn’t officially endorse any other groups, but we very much welcome their support. So far, we’ve worked very closely with occupiers, and their support has been tremendous. I fully expect the protests to be safe for people of any affiliation from arrest, so long as no acts of violence occur.
In addition to turning out for Thursday’s rallies, what else can people do to show support and get involved? Are there any resources you'd like to share?
There are many things that people can do to help out our movement - spread the news on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), share our hashtag (#RestoreThe4th), or simply tell your friends and family. We also have a page of resources on our website with flyers/posters/etc. if you’d like to get involved that way: http://www.restorethefourth.net/resources/
It looks like we’ll see a good turnout Thursday, but what happens after July 4th? Are there further actions being planned?
This movement started only a few weeks ago, and since then we've experienced exponential growth and progress. Since the movement is still very young, plans diverge in the long term on what we hope to achieve. Personally, I'd like to see a combination of legislative and litigative action (something like what the ACLU does), and others want to see further plans of action. With organizations such as the BORDC, stopwatching.us and the EFF behind us, I feel that we can achieve all of this and much more.