In the wake of Edward Snowden’s series of leaks revealing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, many groups and coalitions have taken actions to raise public awareness and put an end to government spying.
Grassroots group Restore the Fourth launched a protest against NSA spying on July 4, 2013, in which tens of thousands of supporters participated in more than 50 cities across the U.S. Restore the Fourth began just four weeks prior and quickly distributed promotional materials and internet communications to organize the event.
“We have been thrilled with the response to Restore the Fourth,” Douglas MacAurthur, media coordinator for Restore the Fourth, said in a press release. “Our goal is to keep the public’s awareness focused on these issues of surveillance as related to our Constitutional rights as much as possible, and this was merely a first step in that direction that we hope to continue to build on.”
The group plans to rally again on August 4th (also known as 1984 day) to continue protesting the NSA’s contentious surveillance programs. Restore the Fourth states in a blog post:
The very precedent of allowing the government to violate our rights and privacy this way, and leaving in their hands the infrastructure to do so, brings us much closer to the wide-scale use of spying as a political tool, something oppressive governments have employed throughout history.
But Restore the Fourth isn’t the only group taking action against NSA surveillance. A total of 19 different groups and organizations filed suit against the NSA Tuesday for violating their First Amendment rights of association by illegally collecting phone records. The coalition is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and includes a diverse array of groups such as The First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Calguns Foundation, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, and TechFreedom.
“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said in a press release. “Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.”
Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are also taking stake in the issue alongside a large group of technology companies. Together, they sent a letter to President Obama Thursday urging for more NSA transparency.
The letter calls upon leaders in Washington to allow Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers to report requests for information sent by the NSA along with the number of requests for information about their users; the number of individuals, accounts, and devices information was requested for; and the number of requests for communications content and subscriber information.
Additionally, the coalition asks the government to start its own transparency report that provides the number of requests for information made and the number of individuals affected by each request.
The letter to President Obama can be read here as a PDF file: weneedtoknow-transparency-letter.