The Day We Fight Back NSA Protest: 20 NSA PRISM FACTS

Written by David Michaelis

Feb. 11, 2014 is The Day We Fight Back, an Internet protest against NSA surveillance tactics. Here are 20 things you need to know about NSA PRISM. Commentary by David Michaelis. — Today Reddit, Mozilla and Tumblr (Yahoo) team up with more than 5,300 other technology companies, human rights organizations and media properties to protest the NSA’s mass surveillance program.

Since SOPA days we all know that Internet protest matters. Dubbed “The Day We Fight Back,” the NSA protest includes expected participants such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as well as Reddit and other firms you don’t expect.

The official site of the initiative states that participants will be asked to “install banners to encourage their visitors to fight back against surveillance.” The tactic provides allegiance and support, but is not nearly as extreme as the Internet blackouts of services like Wikipedia back in SOPA days. In addition, “employees of technology companies will demand that their organizations do the same.” As for the average Internet user, you’ll be asked to “develop memes and change [your] social media avatars to reflect [this initiative’s] demands.”

These are the images you will see on the protest network:

20 Reasons Why You Should Join the Massive Internet Protest Against the NSA Today

While the National Security Agency claims it doesn’t spy on Americans unless they’re known to be linked to foreign terrorism, the tool set it’s built (and is still building) looks an awful lot like a dictator’s wish list.

In short, the NSA is working very hard to make sure that it can watch the electronic activities of anyone, anywhere on the planet. There are few, if any, inhibitions on where that searchlight can be aimed given the right authorization or lack of oversight.

Foreign leaders like Angela Merkel are just some of the most-visible targets of the NSA, an agency that’s been busy building backdoors into software ranging from Skype and Gmail to hardware devices like your cell phone and desktop computer. And let’s not forget about Angry Birds.

From the Brian Lehrer show, here’s a list of 20 capabilities the NSA is currently known to maintain, ranging from mission-essential to downright troubling (H/T associate producer Jody Avirgan).

1. It can track the numbers of both parties on a phone call, as well as location, time and duration. (More)

2. It can hack Chinese phones and text messages. (More)

3. It can set up fake Internet cafes. (More)

4. It can spy on foreign leaders’ cell phones. (More)

5. It can tap underwater fiberoptic cables. Clarification: Shane Harris explains that there were reports the NSA was trying to tap directly into cables using submarines, but is now more likely trying to intercept information once it has reached land. (More)

6. It can track communication within media organizations like Al Jazeera. (More)

7. It can hack into the UN video conferencing system. (More)

8. It can track bank transactions. (More)

9. It can monitor text messages. (More)

10. It can access your email, chat, and web browsing history. (More)

11. It can map your social networks. (More)

12. It can access your smartphone app data. (More)

13. It is trying to get into secret networks like Tor, diverting users to less-secure channels. (More)

14. It can go undercover within embassies to have closer access to foreign networks. (More)

15. It can set up listening posts on the roofs of buildings to monitor communications in a city. (More)

16. It can set up a fake LinkedIn. (More)

17. It can track the reservations at upscale hotels. (More)

18. It can intercept the talking points for Ban Ki-moon’s meeting with Obama. (More)

19. It can crack cell phone encryption codes. (More)

20. It can hack computers that aren’t connected to the Internet using radio waves. Update: The NSA can access offline computers through radio waves on which it has already installed hidden devices. (More)

The protest, for me personally and us here at, seems like a long time coming. We’ll keep you up to date during the day on the Internet-wide event, and maybe we’ll even see some change. Read Gina Smith’s article here.

For, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him