It's been a year since news of the National Security Agency's heavy-handed monitoring efforts were exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. In that time, the world has had a long, hard discussion on the importance of privacy. To commemorate the anniversary, an assembly of tech companies and civil rights organizations have banded together to promote a privacy campaign called Reset the Net.
With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Google, Reddit, and other organizations, Reset the Net is asking developers to add security features, such as HTTPS and SSL protections, to deter spying. On the other side of the equation, the campaign is also encouraging Internet users to try such privacy tools when browsing the web.
In addition, Reset the Net is offering a downloadable pack of privacy tools, such as Tor and mobile app ChatSecure to communicate privately. The Guardian, which broke the news of the NSA's spying programs with the Washington Post a year ago, also released a tool called SecureDrop for whistleblowers to submit documents securely to the newspaper.
"Today, our most intimate private records are being indiscriminately seized in secret, without regard for whether we are actually suspected of wrongdoing," Snowden wrote in an open letter published Thursday. "When these capabilities fall into the wrong hands, they can destroy the very freedoms that technology should be nurturing, not extinguishing. Surveillance, without regard to the rule of law or our basic human dignity, creates societies that fear free expression and dissent, the very values that make America strong."
In the past year, the government has been working on NSA reforms. Obama announced earlier this year he wanted to amend a section of the Patriot Act that allows for metadata tracking in phone records. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill—albeit a watered-down version—to overhaul the agency's collection of phone records.