Media Organizations Protest Government Spying
June 15, 2013
in the wake of a week of reports in the UK Guardian and the Washington Post from former Booz Allen NSA contractor Edward Snowden, 86 public interest and civil liberties groups have delivered a letter to Congress. 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."
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 https://optin.stopwatching.us/
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
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
Cyber Privacy Project
Defending Dissent Foundation
Detroit Digital Justice Coalition
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Entertainment Consumers Association
Fight for the Future
Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom
Free Software Foundation
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Friends of Privacy USA
Get FISA Right
Government Accountability Project
Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA)
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
Law Life Culture
May First/People Link
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 Rights Clearinghouse
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa, Canada)
Rights Working Group
Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic
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
Media Alliance Email News and Updates
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 818 Oakland, CA 94612: (510) 832-9000
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.