Reset the Net

One year ago today, thanks to Edward Snowden, we first learned that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was engaged in a massive domestic surveillance program. The program collects information about everybody—whether or not they are suspected of any wrongdoing—in a sort of worldwide ‘fishing expedition’ that plainly violates our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. It targets countless innocents, including citizens of the United States at home on American soil, which is impermissible except after a war-time suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus and a formal imposition of martial law—as I have explained before.

Despite an intense public outcry, the United States Congress declined to terminate the illegal program. A bill that would have de-funded the NSA’s broad domestic surveillance program (without affecting the NSA’s ability to execute duly-issued search warrants or perform legally-acceptable international surveillance) failed 205-217 in the House of Representatives. I have posted a list of the 217 Congressmen who violated their oath of office, and each and every one of them deserves to be thrown out of office in November.

Today, the NSA continues collecting everybody’s phone records, and continues monitoring everybody’s Internet activities. We haven’t been able to stop them through the courts or the political process (yet), but we can still take steps to improve our security and protect our privacy from those who would invade it—and not just the NSA, but also hackers, Internet providers, and others who might have an interest in watching what you’re doing. The Internet has built-in security features that can help protect us, but we have to make an effort to start using them!

Off on a Tangent is proud to join with Fight for the Future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Google, Mozilla, and countless other organizations and web sites that are working to Reset the Net. We are improving privacy protections, directing visitors to useful privacy tools, and generally ‘making noise’ about civil liberties, Internet freedom, and the right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.”

Here on Off on a Tangent, as part of today’s world-wide campaign, I am taking an important step to help protect your privacy. From now on, all content on this site will be served over a secure HTTPS connection. What this means is that somebody snooping on your activities—whether they be the NSA or your run-of-the-mill cyber-criminal—won’t be able to see anything more than that you visited the IP address (and possibly the domain name) associated with my site. They will not be able to see what particular pages you visited, or what particular content travels back and forth between you and me. I encourage you to use HTTPS connections everywhere you possibly can as you move around the Internet; the HTTPS Everywhere browser plugin can help automate it for you. More advanced users may also want to consider secure proxy services that add an extra layer of privacy and security.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.