Challenging power and promoting freedom at the grassroots
Demand Progress is a US e-petitions website and lobby group advocating progressive causes, especially in internet freedoms, with a membership of over a million.
The site was co-founded by former state representative David Segal and technologist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life aged just 26, following official investigations linked to his activism.
The Washington-based outfit has campaigned against issues such as government surveillance; John Brennan’s nomination as replacement for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State; and modern debtors prisons – and in support of internet privacy and press freedoms, and whistleblowing sites such as Wikileaks.
It played a crucial role in generating support and coordinating action to fight two highly contentious pieces of US legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act – helping engineer the landmark internet ‘black out’ day. On January 18 2012, 115,000 websites, including leading internet service providers, pulled access to their content, instead displaying a message directing people to oppose the laws.
‘For over a decade,’ read the black Wikipedia landing page that day, ‘we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.’ Google ‘censored’ (redacted) its search box. Millions contacted Congress and voiced their opposition to the Bills.
Demand Progress is currently running The Day We Fight Back, a campaign to reverse the NSA surveillance policies revealed by Edward Snowden. ‘Stopping and reversing mass surveillance requires a massive public response, with leaders within government, leading nonprofits and at the top of industry taking part,’ they wrote. The action it took on 11th February 2014 generated 100,000 calls to Congress over 36 hours and 400,000 signatories.
Image 'protest?' courtesy of Alex Naanou
Last updated: 27th of May, 2014