Zaki Manian from Restore the 4th SF explained how last year’s Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon in San Francisco breathed life into a small Restore the 4th chapter in San Francisco. Restore the 4th sent 4 programmers to the event, and came back with 4 more. “There was an enormous surge of grassroots energy after the Snowden revelations, and Restore the 4th was an attempt to harness that energy and direct it into directions that could create real change.”
One of the main projects that Restore the Fourth SF worked on during last year’s hackathon was the “Shame on Feinstein” campaign, which called out California Senator (D) Dianne Feinstein as a staunch supporter of Mass Surveillance. (Although she came around later in June 2014, when it was revealed that her own congressional computers had been compromised in order to access the classified CIA torture report.)
The other really important element of these civil rights focused hackathons the concept of “Weekend Warrior Activism.” “These hackathons are able to tap into an incredible resource of programmers that might already code 9-5 somewhere, in order to give them the ability to work on an important project over the weekend. This allows programmers to “code for freedom” during their precious weekend hours, making “incremental changes,” much like Virgil Griffith mentioned in his talk last year.
The latest mission of Restore the Fourth mission is helping towns deal with Police Militarization. RTF was already working on these issues before Ferguson happened, but now the plan RTF had already set in motion is more timely than ever.
“Militarization of police is a hot topic of the moment. Surveillance technologies funding license plate readers and facial recog software and mass surveillance is becoming a more local issue.” Zaki explains.
“We’re working on a municipal ordinance template, via a website and national campaign, that people in small towns and cities across the country can use to evaluate and put rules constraining how the equipment already purchased is actually allowed to be used,” Zaki explained. “We’re also working on some talking points and content that people can use, to show them how to do the research to find out what surveillance is already in your town, so you can then take action at the local level.”