Coming up with media examples about internet privacy is as simple as checking someone’s browser history – itself an invasion of privacy, but only in the most straightforward way. Almost every site in the top websites of the internet today play host to any number of cookies and trackers that collect meta- and personal data on their visitors. If you use Facebook, search with Google, and watch videos on Youtube, they’re watching you.
As the internet has gained traction to hold “worldwide” (ie, everyone with a router and a computer… so not really everyone) presence it has today, various activist organizations have sprung up surrounding online civil rights issues. The foremost is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, who have “championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.” In addition to legal battles, they spearhead campaigns like “Coders’ Rights” and “HTTPS Everywhere” to increase security and freedom of speech for those who use technology and the internet, and run awareness programs like the annual “Who Has Your Back?” report. In a similar vein, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, does advocacy and public interest research with the focus of bringing public attention to civil liberties issues online.
While important in the scope and reach of their programs, the EFF and EPIC are focused more on the legality and advocacy than on changing the nature of space we occupy online. More recently, especially in the wake of the NSA revelations, more targeted and specific advocacy organizations have appeared. TrackOff makes films illustrating the extent of industry spying and advocates for greater awareness and public action. In a more technological vein, Redecentralize focuses on “redecentralizing” – moving the web back to its original roots by advocating for the use of and disseminating decentralized tools to heighten privacy and create more open platforms for creativity & new development. The Tactical Technology Collective, based in Germany, focuses on bringing technology skills, tools, and techniques to advocates for marginalized communities. All three of these organizations reflect a general coming-of-age in tech as those in the forefront of the technology industry take steps to change the civil rights abuses perpetrated by large companies online.