Reset the Net

Digital privacy for the masses
Reset the Net


To honor the Snowden NSA leaks, Fight for the Future organized a day for individuals to take steps to reclaim their basic privacy rights in the digital world.
Reset the Net Overview ‧ read
Reset the Net: June 5th, 2014
“Don't ask for your privacy. Take it back,” urges online privacy campaign Reset the Net.

Reset the Net took place on June 5, 2014, marking the one-year anniversary of the Edward Snowden National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance leaks. The aim of the campaign? To help citizens reclaim our privacy and defend our internet against mass surveillance.

Here’s a profile of the Reset the Net campaign.

How Reset the Net began

Fight for the Future is a non-profit organization that advocates for the protection of individuals’ basic rights and freedoms in the digital world. Online privacy is one of their primary causes.

The folks at Fight for the Future founded Reset the Net in response to the 2013 revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. The documents, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, revealed all the ways the NSA was stealing private data from millions of individuals worldwide.

Fight for the Future has described the NSA as “twisting the internet we love into something it was never meant to be. We can't stop targeted attacks, but we can stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday internet.”

3 ways to fight spying

The Reset the Net campaign encouraged internet users and websites to use security tools and technologies to defend against NSA spying. Reset the Net also raised awareness of online privacy issues.

Here are three ways the public could participate in Reset the Net.

Get the Privacy Pack: The Reset the Net Privacy Pack is a suite of tools, mostly free to use, which help individuals protect their privacy online. The pack includes apps and guides for Windows, Mac, Linux, smartphones, and password security. Recommended tools include the Tor browser, secure chat app Pidgin, and phone call–encryption app RedPhone, among others.

Celebrate Reset the Net Day: Timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the NSA spying revelations of June 5, 2013, Reset the Net Day was a planned day of action against mass surveillance. Participating websites were asked to display a splash screen or modal on Reset the Net Day, which read: “A year after the first NSA revelation, the US congress has failed to protect our rights. Starting today, June 5th, we’re taking steps to directly block government surveillance on the internet. Here’s how to protect your devices too.”

“Starting today, June 5th, we’re taking steps to directly block government surveillance on the internet.”
Take the Pledge: Campaign supporters were also invited to take a pledge: “Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I'm taking steps to take my freedoms back and I expect governments and corporations to follow in my footsteps and take steps to stop all mass government surveillance.”

“Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I'm taking steps to take my freedoms back...”

Who supported Reset the Net?

Reset the Net attracted support from many high-profile companies and individuals.

Companies that publicly backed the campaign include Google, Reddit, Imgur, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Mozilla, Twitter, Dropbox, Mojang, CloudFlare, and ExpressVPN.

Public figures who backed Reset the Net include Edward Snowden, civil liberties attorney Jennifer Granick, and security specialist Bruce Schneier.

Snowden said: “I am excited for Reset the Net—it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.”

Schneier said: “The NSA and others do mass surveillance because it's easier than targeting. Initiatives like Reset the Net force governments into targeted surveillance. That’s how we win.”

Educating millions of internet users

Data from the campaign’s Thunderclap page showed that Reset the Net attracted over 13,000 supporters and enjoyed a social reach of over 13 million.

Guardian columnist Astra Taylor suggested that Google’s support of the campaign was ironic, given that the company’s “profits depend on sucking up our personal information... Google and Facebook would prefer to denounce state surveillance practices rather than acknowledge the myriad ways they facilitate such encroachments.”

Is it time to Reset the Net again?

The Reset the Net campaign ended on June 5, 2014, although campaign materials, including the Privacy Pack, remain available to anyone looking to increase their online privacy and security.

But there is still much work to do around the world. Now that Australia’s Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 and the United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Act 2016 are in full force, will Reset the Net mobilize the masses once more to prevent government agencies from spying on ordinary citizens?