Web Activists Claim Congressional Blackout

Say Hill Surfers Are Redirected To Protest Page

Web activist group Fight for the Future (FFTF) said somewhere north of 14,000 edge providers (Web sites) are currently blocking access to their sites from congressional IP addresses to make a policy point.

That point is their opposition to renewal of Patriot Act data collection authorizations, which will sunset June 1 unless the Congress can agree on either a straight renewal or a bipartisan bill, the USA Freedom Act, which would reduce (some say eliminate) indiscriminate bulk data collection, but which FFTF calls "fake" reform.

Congress is on a Memorial Day break, but the Senate is reconvening for a Sunday session (May 31) -- The House has passed the USA Freedom Act -- debate whether to find some legislative way to renew at least some of the surveillance authorities, or let them expire.

Although it sounds like something that a net neutrality activist like FFTF would protest if it were coming from an ISP, the group, which organized the protest, says the protest is warranted because "no one wants to live in a world without privacy where they aren’t free to express themselves,"  Tiffiniy Cheng, Fight for the Future co-founder, said.

"If an ISP had the guts to temporarily block the Internet for a day to protest an atrocity like NSA mass surveillance, we think that would be amazing," FFTF co-founder Holmes Wilson said. "I don’t think they would though," he added, saying many IP's had themselves been complicit for in mass spying, "having given government access to their records even though it was unconstitutional."

Participating sites are redirecting those congressional IP addresses to a protest site featuring pictures of Patriot Act opponents in various states of undress talking about feeling naked in the face of Patriot Act surveillance.

The White House supports USA Freedom, as do numerous members of both parties. But FFTF says Congress has made a mess that it needs to clean up.

In fact, the site directs its anger at Congress, saying it was the one conducting the mass surveillance -- illegally, it argues.

Multichannel News could not independently confirm the redirects, but the Reddit site -- protest was launched via a Reddit thread -- was still available to at least a couple of Hill staffers, so that was not one of them.

Holmes supplied a list of 90 of the sites he said were participating, a total that had now grown to 14,164, he added. That list contained mostly names like mangafruit.com, luckyottershaven.com and theblogpirate.com, as well as various activist sites.