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Activists to protest on 1984 Day in 20 U.S. cities

Two Minutes Hate and Hate Week, however, have yet to be scheduled.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Aug 2, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 10:04 am CDT

Just how much do you love Big Brother? Would you be willing to leave your house to prove it?

Outraged by continuing revelations of National Security Agency spying, protesters across the U.S. are planning to celebrate “1984 Day” on Sunday.

It’s named, of course, for the dystopic George Orwell novel about a totalitarian surveillance state, and will take place on the easy-to-remember date of 8/4. That’s a certainly a theme that will resonate with the outraged: Amazon sales of 1984 have skyrocketed in the wake of news that the NSA employs a host of ways to spy on Americans’ phone calls and the world’s Internet use.

“1984 is a warning, not an instruction manual,” Andrea O’Neill, an organizer of the Washington, D.C. branch of the protest, said in a press release. “As we find out about more unconstitutional programs every week, it is clear that the NSA’s domestic spying has gone too far and must be stopped before it’s too late.”

The protests are organized by Restore the Fourth, that section of Reddit that’s personally endorsed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who’s the source of those revelations in the first place. Chapters in 20 cities have planned different events. In San Francisco, for instance, famous NSA leakers Daniel Ellsberg and Mark Klein are scheduled to speak. Organizers there plan to specifically call out their House Representative, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has played a key role in keeping such programs alive.

This will be at least the third major protest in direct response to NSA spying. Restore the Fourth also held nationwide protests on the Fourth of July, which organizers said “couldn’t have gone better.” And the weekend before, Germans in at least 39 cities organized to express their displeasure at being the NSA’s most-spied-on country in Europe.

Activist pressure has already had a visible influence on U.S. privacy policy. On July 24, the House voted on an amendment to cut funding for the NSA’s practice of tracking the metadata of every American’s phone call. Buoyed by a related movement called Defund the NSA, the amendment surprisingly almost passed, losing by only seven votes.

Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III

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*First Published: Aug 2, 2013, 2:00 pm CDT