Media Organizations Protest Government Spying

June 15th, 2013 - by admin

Media Alliance – 2013-06-15 01:10:15

86 Organizations Petition Congress to Counter Unconstitutional Surveillance
Letter Demands Patriot Act Reform of Section 215, Congressional Hearings and Accountability

(June 11, 2013) — A letter signed by 86 public interest and civil liberties organizations was delivered to Congress this morning, in the wake of a week of explosive reports in the UK Guardian and the Washington Post from former Booz Allen NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The reports detailed several government programs, including one that provides access to metadata for telephone calls and another that provides warrantless access to online activities culled from the servers of nine leading Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.

The letter states: “This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the 1st and 4th amendments of the US Constitution”.

The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized”.

Media Alliance director Tracy Rosenberg comments: “These programs are what the US Constitution was written to prevent.”

The 86 organizations are demanding:
• Immediate reform of Section 215 of the US Patriot Act, state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to clarify that blanket surveillance of any individual residing in the United States is unconsttiutional and the ability to have violations reviewed by a public court.

• Congressional hearings to investigate and report on the full extent of current surveillance programs which will recommend specific legal and regulatory reforms to end unconstitutional surveillance

• Accountability for public officials found to have authorized or engaged in unconstitutional surveillance activities.

The text of the letter may be found here. Individuals wishing to support the letter and take further action should visit the website at

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.

The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by a career intelligence officer showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments.

As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization. 

Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers.

The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy.

We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:

1. Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

2. Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;

3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union

American Civil Liberties Union of California

American Library Association

Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee


Calyx Institute 

Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Media Justice

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Action

Consumer Watchdog


CREDO Mobile

Cyber Privacy Project

Daily Kos

Defending Dissent Foundation

Demand Progress

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition

Digital Fourth

Downsize DC


Electronic Frontier Foundation

Entertainment Consumers Association

Fight for the Future


Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom

Free Press
Free Software Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation


Friends of Privacy USA

Get FISA Right

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace USA

Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA)

Internet Archive, LLC 
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

Law Life Culture
Liberty Coalition

May First/People Link

Media Alliance

Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia


National Coalition Against Censorship

New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC

Open Technology Institute

Participatory Politics Foundation

Patient Privacy Rights 

People for the American Way

Personal Democracy Media


Privacy and Access Council of Canada

Privacy Activism

Privacy Camp
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Privacy Times

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa, Canada)

Public Knowledge


Rights Working Group

Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association

Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic

Sunlight Foundation

Taxpayers Protection Alliance


The AIDS Policy Project, Philadelphia

TURN-The Utility Reform Network

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI)

World Wide Web Foundation

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