With speeches, flyers, and some family friendly songs, a few dozen protesters joined outside the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) yesterday to push back against what they said were increasingly invasive government intrusions into individuals’ privacy.
The event was dubbed an Orwell Day protest, after George Orwell’s 1984 (the date was 8/4), a novel about a totalitarian regime that maintains control largely through an aggressive surveillance program.
“I believe in the constitution, I believe in the Fourth Amendment,” said Alex Marthews, founder of Digital Fourth, a non-profit which advocates for strong Fourth Amendment protections and a strong emphasis on privacy. He blasted BRIC as an ineffective institution that wasted time and money investigating peace activists and graffiti artists rather than more serious threats.
“An agency that does no good and wastes your money should be closed,” he said.
Nadeem Mazen, a local entrepreneur and candidate for Cambridge City Council, said that politicians were balancing vague security threats over the will of the people. He pointed to a recent debate about turning on dormant security cameras in Cambridge which ultimately had the council vote 9 to zero in favor of the increased surveillance.
“I don't feel represented anymore,” he said. “But if we organize, we can restore the fourth in our city, state, and nation.”
In addition to the speakers, the event featured food, a “crypto party” that helped users better protect the contents of their hard drives, and live music, one of which cheerfully described the National Security Agency’s scatological interests in detail.