More than 5,300 web-based companies and other organizations, including Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, Mozilla the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, have joined forces to protest National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11.
"In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history," the site's letter to Internet users reads. "In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th."
The "The Day We Fight Back" website urges webpage owners to add a banner to their websites directing people to contact legislators by phone and email. The organization is also trying to manufacture memes to be shared on Facebook and Twitter for the event.
Such Internet-based protests have one major precedent in the U.S. On Jan. 18, 2012, over 8,000 websites went dark for 12 hours in protest of a pair of bills being debated in U.S. Congress that would have allowed copyright holders to shut websites down without a trial. Both the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) died in committee in the wake of protests.
Organizers of this week's event plan to commemorate Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz, who was instrumental in the SOPA and PIPA protests. He was indicted on charges of giving non-subscribers free access to articles on JSTOR in 2011 and took his own life two years later.