Alternative in Action? Grass Roots movement forces referendum over surveillance

ProtonMail is a small company in Switzerland that specializes in an encrypted email service.  With the recent passage of a law that would increase surveillance and could lead to vulnerabilities for its users down the road, ProtonMail worked with other grass root groups that believe in privacy, and put together 70,000 signatures protesting the new law. In Switzerland, if you able to get 50,000+ signatures within 3 months of a bill passage, then that triggers a nation wide referendum over a new bill.  With all of the publicity the movement is getting, it may lead to broader legal support of increased encryption practices.

While the United States doesn’t have a similar “referendum” democratic check to it’s legal practice, it does signal hope that public opinion can influence the scope of surveillance in this country. Jenna McLaughlin, writer at The Intercept writes:

“The same fight is brewing in the U.S., where people might have to be more creative and forceful to make their opinions heard. “ProtonMail went out to get signatures, worked with political parties, the Green party, the Pirate party. In the U.S., maybe with non-mainstream political groups, with the support of young people, and a few of the technology companies — there’s a real chance,” Yen said.

“A couple months ago we thought this referendum was totally impossible. Now here we are.””

So, what are your thoughts?  Does this provide some solvency for some bottom up K alternatives?  Or is this a legalistic front that would be circumvented on the other side?

The rest of The Intercept article can be found here.

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